Matching snapshots

‘Unidentified’ no longer

  • Black and white photo of two children holding onto each other, smaller girl on left and boy on right.
  • Black and white photo of two children holding onto each other, smaller girl on left and boy on right.
The names and stories behind street photographs are often lost with the passing of time, and we were unable to identify many of the people whose images are featured in the Street Photography exhibition. However, we’ve since learnt the moving story behind one image, of two curly-haired children (above).

Published in a newspaper article about the exhibition, the photo was spotted by a member of the public who had a very similar photo (right) in her own family album, showing her late father, Michael Finn.

The two photos clearly belong to the same sequence of images, captured by a street photographer outside Central Station in late 1939. In both photos, six-year-old Michael has a reassuring arm around his two-year-old sister Margaret; their mother was probably standing nearby, out of sight. It’s believed the close‑up photo was sent to a family friend; it later found its way to us in response to our public call-out for the exhibition. The Finns retained the other photo.

Just two of the many images the photographer undoubtedly snapped that day, these photos now hold a much greater significance than could have been anticipated at the time. The photos are possibly among the last images of Margaret, who was fatally injured in a road accident not long after, on 6 January 1940.

These inexpensive snaps, quickly captured and often impulsively purchased, have crept their way into family stories, sometimes just putting a face to a name but occasionally becoming an irreplaceable record of a lost loved one.

Do you recognise yourself or someone you know in these photos? Let us know via streetphotos@slm.com.au

This story originally appeared in Unlocked: The Sydney Living Museums’ Gazette, our quarterly members’ magazine.

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About the author

Head and shoulders portrait of woman set against brick wall.

Anna Cossu

Curator

Inspired by wonderful and slightly eccentric history teachers and after her own foray as a teacher, Anna found herself drawn to the world of museums.

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