I believe we are all aware that pets can make our lives so much better. While in the modern day we have pet clothes, hotels, bakeries, and of course, photo contests, people from 100 years ago weren’t as devoted to their pets as we are today. Or were they?
Mathieu Stern explored a bunch of Victorian-era glass prints. He spent hours in Photoshop and gave them a new life, but he discovered something interesting along the way. It appears that people in these photos thought of their pets as family members just as we do today.
Restoring the images
Mathieu spent hours browsing through David Knights-Whittome’s glass plate negative collection held at Sutton Archives, UK. He “scanned” the negatives using a tablet as a light source and his Sony A7III with the Laowa 15mm f/4 macro lens. Two of the plates from 1910 were candidates for restoration. After inverting them in Photoshop, Mathieu spent hours painstakingly cleaning them up.
After that, Mathieu relied on AI to enhance the facial details in both photos. He also tried colorizing them with AI’s help – but the result was pretty lame. So, it was back to Photoshop for Mathieu, where he patiently colorized the images to give them the final look.
Pets in Victorian photos
“During the early years of photography, having your portrait taken was very expensive,” Mathieu writes. “This is one of the reasons people looked cold and emotionless.” I’d say the main reason was longer exposure times. But since the photos were indeed rare and expensive, you didn’t want to mess up your one chance for a decent shot so keeping a straight face was a safe bet.
But Mathieu noticed that some of the negatives had people and their pets in them. And these photos were different. When taking photos with their pets, people were smiling. And even if not, their face would still light up and you could see that in photos. I mean, how can you not smile with a kitty or a pup next to you?
“At the start of the 20th century, people began to rethink their relationship with animals,” Mathieu writes. “Pets became viewed as members of the family.” And this remained true to this day. Many of us see pets as family members, they still give us so many smiles, and you know what’s best? We get to snap so many more photos of them than people did in the Victorian era!
[110-year-old Photo Brought To Life Using AI Technology | Mathieu Stern]