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April 3, 2017

Larger Than Life: A Collection of 40 Strange and Funny Vintage Tall-Tale Postcards from the 1910s

Since postcards eventually came to function as a surrogate for travel, the photographic images depicting a geographic location engendered a certain myth about that town or region, usually equating the land with an Arcadian utopia.

The most crafty photographers soon realized that this myth could be altered not only by manipulating the camera's gaze, but by physically manipulating the photographs themselves, exploiting their ostensibly naïve depictions.

The basic process for creating a tall-tale, or "freak," postcard is simple: a photographer would take two prints, one a background landscape and another a close-up of an object, carefully cut out the second and superimpose it onto the first, and re-shoot the combination to create a final composition.

The most common subjects were food resources specific to the region — vegetables, fruits, or fish. Successful tall-tale postcard artists were those not only skilled enough to seamlessly join together two images, but also those able to envision and create dynamic compositions, often involving people mid-action. Though difficult to perfect, the resultant product was compelling, evoking a documentary snapshot.

(via Wisconsin Historical Society)


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