But toward the end of the 19th century, exposure times were shorter, photographer’s studios were everywhere and the cost was lower, so people started joking in their photos. Victorians thought it was hilarious to cross-dress for the photographer—men wearing large flowered hats, women in derbys and cutaways.
The four men above are, I think, all actors recreating their best roles. The two cabinet cards by W. L. Shoemaker, of Phoenixville, Pa. showing men dressed as royalty? or courtiers? , were probably used to advertise the thespians, the way headshots are today, or they were collected by their fans. In pencil on the back of the guy with the mustache is “George Leister.” The man without the mustache is identified in pencil on the back as “Walter Shoemaker” –which I realized is also the last name of the photographer. Could it be a photograph he took of himself in fancy dress?
While the men above are dressed for the theater, I think this skater, photographed in Boston, may be seriously trying to commemorate his skill on the ice. (Remember that all these photos are taken inside a photographer’s studio, with props and painted background to suggest they’re outdoors.)
Now this guy, whom I call “The Leaning Man” is definitely trying to be funny with the props he found in the photographer’s studio. This is a “real photo” post card, which may be later-- into the 1900’s-- than the cabinet cards.