Tag Archives: Hidden Mother Photography

“A Hundred Different Skies” Preorder Update

“A Hundred Different Skies”? What’s that?

It’s a poetry collection I’ve been working on since 2007. I initially published it in 2008, then pulled it immediately after receiving the proof copy. This time I’m trying to do it right. I have beta readers, I’m editing my poetry, and I’m getting a proper cover designed by a childhood friend.

I promised my grandmother I would properly publish the collection at one point. While I still plan to publish one off poems on occasion, I’m not sure I plan to publish another poetry collection for another 12 years or more.

What Kinds Of Poetry?

My poetry is influenced heavily by the works of Billy Collins, e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Esther Popel, Philip K Dick (yes he wrote poetry too), Sylvia Path, and probably any other poet I learned about.

An incomplete list of the styles of poetry include:

  • avant garde
  • free verse
  • blank verse
  • tanka
  • cinquain
  • sestina
  • free verse – word art

For more information on types of poetry, Writer’s Digest has a great list here.

Do You Consider Yourself A Poet?

Kind of? I used to consider myself primarily a poet, but over the past 10 years I have found myself more drawn toward writing. I’ve been writing non-fiction for quite some time and then switched to writing fiction. I tend to isolate my poetry to specific places, such as my author page on Curensea. They even interviewed me back in 2019.

What Publishing Method Do You Plan To Use?

Initially I had planned to publish through Inkshares. This meant that even though I said “Coming Summer 2020” that was for preorder.

2020 has thrown curve balls for us all. If I wanted to increase turn around time I would self publish instead of going through a hybrid publisher, but I am notoriously an overachiever in most aspects of my life if I’m in complete control of the deadlines. I’m considering what other options there are and am also considering completing the manuscript and submitting for traditional publication given that many of these poems are submitted for publication elsewhere.

Part of why I’m reconsidering using Inkshares? Inkshares is a hybrid publisher that requires authors to achieve a minimum number of preorders for the book to go to press.

Is This Why You’ve Been On Hiatus From Reviews?

Partially. Some of the hiatus has been related to other aspects of life as some people may have gathered. Some of the hiatus has been related to focusing on my writing because creating has been more helpful for sanity than consuming media.

Some of it has also been avoidance to see if a separation period improves this automatic response I keep having. When I try to write a review or read a book with the intention to review, my heart races and my mind clouds. Taking a break has been essential to review books fairly and honestly.

I have been constantly afraid of encountering more authors that aren’t looking for honest reviews from people that use their own money to buy their books. Or ask for honest reviews from people they send books to.

Perhaps I do not have the spine needed to write book reviews. I have a commitment to finish the books I currently have. This was never meant to be a source of stress or anxiety – it was meant to be a source of interaction with a community I love.

Other Projects

There are other projects in the works besides “A Hundred Different Skies”:

  • Additional chapbooks
  • Short story collections
  • A biography
  • 4-6 shelved novels
  • The “descendants project” – the digitizing of old photographs with names and evidence associated with them used to archive it to allow those searching to see the faces of their great-great-great grandparents for the first time as I come across these photos in my historic photograph projects
  • A book on historic photography techniques and the link between photography and American religious/spiritual movements (as well as the earliest examples of the American manufacturing of false evidence).
  • An ever growing personal photography portfolio that needs to be curated and shared in a gallery show. I recently obtained my first set of prints for framing.
  • Gluten free recipe development
  • Two “toy” / “art” manufacturing projects (I will be running contests for giving away prototypes as I perfect the process).

Not to mention Jacob and I are landscaping the yard and redecorating the house.

If you are interested in supporting or following any of my other projects please let me know which of the above interests you most. I’m happy to post more information and updates. I’m curious what formats people would prefer these updates in, so please include that information in comments below. Liking and sharing helps to get the word out about the upcoming release of A Hundred Different Skies as well as my other projects, but this post is mostly for the people who already read this.

Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read this. It really does mean the world to me.

Do You Know This Woman?

The Mystery Of Hattie Reams Vande Riet – Part 1

What we know

“Hattie” Reams Vande Riet sat still in an ornate wicker chair at New York Art Gallery at 305 E. Broad St. in Richmond VA approximately one hundred years ago. This posed cabinet card captured her green, light hazel, or dark blue eyes and brown hair rolled into an ornate nest Gibson Girl above her head. Her neck scarf collar and broach with necklace and pinky ring are all carefully selected indications of her class. She was stunning and when I found her at Luxor in 2010 and fell in love.

What I know so far is that Hattie is a nickname for Harriet, Henrietta, Henriette, Helen, or many other traditional female names. Based on the type of cabinet card, photography chemicals used (gelatin bromide over Baryta I think – cannot confirm without damaging the photograph), and the style of attire, the photograph is from the 1890s – 1910s. Hattie appears to be at least 16, placing her year of birth to be in the 1880s – 1900s if she is exceptionally young looking and in her 20s. Given her lack of pierced ears, her jewelry, and her ring placement, she is educated and affluent or hoping to appear as such. It is unclear whether the photograph is pre or during World War I given the hairstyle, though the Gibson Girl fell out of fashion after World War I and during the Influenza Epidemic placing the photograph as no later than the 1910s.

One possible option I tracked down is here. There is some conflicting information between the name on the card and the name listed here. The cursive on the back of the card lacks the spaces and capitalization. So far this is my best lead, but unfortunately, all of the relatives listed on this family tree are deceased.

Based on the year of marriage listed to John Van De Riet, could this have been her bridal/bachelorette portrait? The hairstyle and dress are accurate to Virginia in November of 1906.

Do any of those names look familiar to you? Are they your parents, great grandparents, or great great grandparents? Is Hattie your family member?

Why?

I collect cabinet cards, but Hattie is special. Whenever I obtain a cabinet card with more information than a face, I can’t help but try to find out who these pictures captured. Early photography was a synergistic art form between timing, chemistry, and the capturing of minutes as opposed to hours in time in a way that was lifelike and included human flaws, and thus souls in the opinions of some, unlike portrait painting where commissioned manipulations by the upper-classes were more common (a study of the portraits of Queen Elizabeth I is one of the most famous on this topic).

Hattie is someone’s relative and because I have her name I want to reconnect her though this archiving. So this is where our story begins with the first cabinet card I hope to digitize and reconnect with her descendants.

At the time I purchased her photograph, I also found one of an unnamed blond-haired post-mortem (the 1860s – 1880s based on photography method) toddler boy forever alone in his Christening clothes and forgotten by the family that knew him so briefly. I find it important that he never be alone again. I will never digitize his photo for ethical reasons. (I have a love of Hidden Mother Photography and other early child portrait methods. They fill me with warm fuzzies. I will go into these in another post dedicated to early child portrait photography.)

The Cabinet Card Descendants Project

The first cabinet card that is part of this project is Hattie. She was the first cabinet card I purchased with this level of detailed information and therefore I will focus on her first.

Very few cabinet cards have enough information to connect them with their families once they’re separated. My mom’s family is lucky enough that every cabinet card we’ve ever had taken is still in our family’s possession (that we know of) – including the (sometimes broken) glass negatives. Photography became related to spirituality in the South, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as family members died farther and farther away from home without the constant love and contact they once had. Families dispersed across the United States, mailing cabinet cards through the United States Postal Service to loved ones back home with the superstition that each one of these cards contained a small piece of their soul – a gift to be cherished. This bit of superstition was one relayed to me through family legend and is not one I can put much stock in (hope you enjoy the pun there), but many did at the time the photos were created.

I do not fault families for giving these away. Superstitions die over time and are entirely relative to where you are from. The belief in a soul and the afterlife is questionable in the face of modern skepticism. That said, I am making an effort to digitize every cabinet card I get that has names associated with the faces. I will then provide research to attempt to reconnect to the original portrait studios to see if I can start adding names to the other cabinet cards. This way they can be digitized and added to other genealogy websites.

A Note On Cultural Differences

For readers in the UK, please note there are cultural and chemical differences in cabinet card photography between our continents. I have run into the issue previously with discussing old photographs where readers from the UK (and for some reason only the UK) try to impose assumptions on antique photographs from the US based on cultural history and expectations associated with the Edwardian and Victorian eras elsewhere in the world and argue this without doing their research and fact checking. Please do not do this. This is not how history works. At all. Seriously.

The United States experienced a massive social upheaval from the 1840s through the 1940s in a very different way than that of the UK and rest of the world. Every culture and even subgroup has its unique history that can be contributed and needs to be exposed as opposed to erased. This project is about exposing what is objective. I cannot work based on incorrect cultural assumptions here and I need to be able to make corrections so I can reconnect individuals. Some of the unique experiences in the United States had to do with the size of our country and how its population spread out with the rise of the railroad and westward expansion. The rise of the Spiritualism movement (very different from Spiritualism in the UK) also had a role to play in photography at the time, but likely had to less to do with this particular photograph.

How You Can Help

If you have information that can help track down Hattie’s living family members, either by knowing someone that shares a name or if you recognize her face as a relative of yours, please feel free to share any leads you may have. I will take my time to check out each one and provide updates on this website. If anyone wants, I may even start a YouTube series dedicated to this project and tracking down the descendants so they can meet their long lost great grandparents through photographs.

You can send tips to lopotterwrites at gmail dot com. You can also help by liking, sharing, and talking about Hattie! Let’s help find Hattie together.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this today. I look forward to helping Hattie find her family and moving on to the next cabinet card in my collection with information and will continue to post information on cabinet cards and the history of portrait photography and how it relates to superstition and spirituality in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries.