have camera, will travel

c1939 photograph of a baby on a pony.

Toronto. The dirty ’30s! What a terrible time. What a wonderful time. Itinerant photographers, known since the beginning of the art, roamed the streets searching for a buck. Many had just a camera plus a pony and assistant for a prop. The dog and pony show at left was taken by one such roving lensman around 1939. It was popular to use a pony for baby shots, after all what mom could resist a portrait of her baby riding a pony!

For the photographer, the pony became a prop and the sunny outdoors his studio. At night the orders of the day could be processed and printed, ready for delivery to the proud mother for just a few pennies. One such photographer came around when I was about two or younger, capturing me and our little terrier standing on the porch of our home.

That day was many decades ago and if I didn’t have the photograph, I would never have even known about the pony, dog, camera, or photographer. In fact, I was unaware of the location since my first memories are of a house some blocks away and a few years further on. ┬áLess than a decade later, another itinerant photographer and pony came along and photographed me holding my baby sister at another house a few blocks away from the other ones.

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