Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In the 70s, You Looked Better When We Saw You Twice

When I saw this goofy picture of Will Ferrell, it sparked a memory:



If you're a child of the 70s/80s, you know exactly what I'm talking about. In fact, you probably had at last one of these pictures taken of yourself. If not, you saw them hanging on your relatives' walls.



It turns out, I'm not the only one feeling nostalgic. There's even a Double Exposure Portrait Appreciation Society on Facebook.



I had to learn a little more about this crazy trend, which seemed to emerge in the mid to late 70s and fizzle out sometime around the early 80s. It was created by then-popular portrait chain Olan Mills. At some time, every set of parents dragged their children to Olan Mills for the latest "technology" in photography--the double exposure. It was either that or suffer the requisite family photo in front of a backdrop depicting some corny nature scene.



If you didn't get the nature scene, you were posed in front of a fake bookcase.



70s kids, are you feelin' me yet? Yeah, it was pretty bad, even in the 80s, when Olan Mills graduated to the marble-ish backdrop.



But nothing compares to double exposure. Except maybe Glamour Shots with their mostly failed attempts at making average people look like models.



Did your parents ever force you to get a really cheesy picture made? My mom found one of me:


83 comments:

  1. Only the yearly school pictures.
    Fortunately, I never had one of those double exposure shots made, but I think my brother did.
    And not a chance would I have posed with a snake.
    Wow, were 70's and 80's looks bad...

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    1. I know! But that just shows how much kids are going to regret that Justin Bieber hair they had a few years ago in about 20 years!

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  2. I'm a little older and we didn't had school photos when I was on school, thank goodness. I don't know if I could bear to look at those old corny photos. haha.
    My kids though got their photos taken at school and sometimes I made them go for a better retake.

    I remember a family photo that was taken at my brother's wedding and we looked like the Brady Bunch in larger number. Haha.
    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. I didn't know they could do a retake! There may have been retake day when I was in school, though...my memory about that stuff isn't as good as it should be!

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  3. We never had pictures like that taken. Just our annual school pictures which were always very simple in nature with no frills. We never did shots at Olan Mills, didn't have the money for extra photo's beyond the ones taken at school. I remember seeing that one of Will Ferrel, though I don't why I remember it, was it a shot for a promo for a movie? I'm not a fan of his, so don't remember, and probably didn't watch the movie, and like Alex...no way with the snake, I can't even visit the snake house at the zoo where there under glass...they give me willies. Looking forward to meeting new bloggers as I'm out and about gearing up for the challenge.

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    1. Our school pictures had the background like the one in the picture with the big-hair family. I think I do remember them getting creative with backgrounds in elementary school...the bookcase behind us maybe?

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  4. My brother and I have a photo of the two of us in front of that library! One of my favorite Awkward Family Photos is of an overweight teen boy in his band uniform, double exposured. Poor kid!

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    1. I think I saw that one while I was searching!

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  5. Haha... I had to have a professional one taken in front of a fireplace... they spent big money for that, my ex step mother should have invested in a hair dresser for us too instead of cutting our bang herself... they were awful pictures...

    I vaguely remember the double exposure ones but mostly I remember wedding photos with the brides head and the grooms head in the corner... it was an odd looking shot to me... xox

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    1. I remember a lot of weird wedding photos--they got too creative! Now they use Photoshop and make normal pictures look amazing.

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  6. I wonder how the world didn't suffocate in the 80's with all that hairspray spraying around :) Is that the cause of the ozone layer hole?

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    1. That's coming up in a future blog of mine...actually no. Basically, I was going to write a blog joking about how we destroyed the ozone layer but scientific truth ruined all that...so I had to go in a different direction with it! For aerosol cans to be bad, they'd have to use chlorofluorocarbons--and 80s hair spray didn't have chlorofluorocarbons.

      "Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, in the mid-1970s most manufacturers voluntarily stopped using chlorofluorocarbons. Further, in 1978, chlorofluorocarbons were officially banned in the United States, with a few exceptions. These exceptions were primarily concerning certain medical applications, such as with asthma inhalers (though use in inhalers and other medicinal applications were officially banned in 2008)."

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  7. Ha! When I was coming up we took pictures at Olan Mills, and it seemed to be a requirement that every child be sitting in a brown wicker chair. Those double exposure shots are something else, that's for sure.

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    1. Ah yes, the wicker! And now I'm noticing every baby is seated in a chair that bears his/her name in embroidery. I'm assuming there's a blanket involved in that? Kids are put through all kinds of torture in the name of pictures! If they weren't taken by Olan Mills, it was JCPenney or Sears.

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  8. I can assure you that my mom would have never had us take a photo with a snake! But she did drive us crazy about going to Olin Mills and having photos taken in front of bookcases on screens... Thankfully, I graduated from high school before the double exposure era and would have been in college but don't remember ever having a portrait taken in those years.

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    1. Yes--the bookcase was on a screen. And the really funny part was they could just change the background by lifting one of those screens up. (Was it like one of those window shades where you pulled down on it and it slid up on its own? I can't remember that part.) I remember the first time I had a professional digital photo taken and they showed us on the screen what it would look like so we could have it retaken if we wanted. I thought that was the most amazing thing ever! I think that picture of me above is probably when I was about 10--since I write for that age group, we'll be seeing that picture again!

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  9. Those photos are awkwardly hilarious :) We didn't have anything like that in the UK when I was growing up (as far as I know), but I do have something that looks a little similar to the double exposure - that's because it's me and my twin in our early school photos - we were practically identical when we were small. :)

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    1. So cool! I wanted to have a twin when I was a teenager--the twins on the TV show "Double Trouble" made it look so cool.

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  10. Oh wow. I was a 90's kid, so I must have just missed the double exposure popularity, but my school pictures did have the absolute cheesiest backgrounds. I remember it was popular to have a dark background dotted with fake, multicolored lights. So distracting, haha.

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    1. I missed all that fun! For school pictures now, they should just let kids take selfies.

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  11. Wow, that hair, and that snake! I never had a double exposure photo, but I remember the fake backgrounds. I'm glad things have improved since then.

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    1. Everyone thought they were so high-tech back then. Imagine someday people will be laughing at our little iPhones and iWatches. It will all seem so archaic. Which makes you wonder just where technology is going next!

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  12. I couldn't afford a professional photographer, so I spared my kids those photos.

    That last on of you...oh my, looks so much like my daughter and granddaughter. Same hair color and she still has it. When she was 16 she wanted to dye it. I said "are you crazy, people kill for that color!" Fortunately she listened.

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    1. My hair looks red in that picture but I promise it wasn't. In certain lights, it had a little bit of a red tint. It's a bland brown...but I've been coloring it blonde for more than ten years now. I can see gray in the roots so I know better than to stop! Although I could switch to red. Blonde just feels like me, if that makes sense.

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  13. I started laughing before I even read the post - just the title and the pic got me. :)

    I don't think I have a double exposure photo but I have way too many of those school/posed shots. And now I'm putting those same kinds photos of my niece and nephew on my refrigerator! Although they are way cuter than I ever was. :)

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    1. I have a picture of my niece on my fridge, too!

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  14. made me laugh! never had a double exposure or olan mills shot done, but i did have a glamour shots session before they were really famous. i just don't want that to be the photo they use for my obituary. :)

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    1. I just looked up Glamour Shots and they're still around. Although I searched Tennessee and found there are none in this state anymore. I remember one being at Opry Mills Mall...they must not have come back after the flood. I never had one taken. It's an interesting concept but how about just setting up an affordable professional studio that takes GOOD pictures? Good photographers are really pricey. I guess that's the point, though!

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  15. Damn, look at that hair lol I have never got a double exposure done, but then I came after that was all over.

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  16. Haha! This is awesome, I had no idea this was a thing.

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    1. I aim to teach. It was actually fun going down memory lane...I didn't even know there was a name for these pictures when I started writing this. I looked up "double pictures Olan Mills" and found out they were called double exposure portraits!

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  17. Ha ha ha! Our family did the bookcase shot and I was a victim of the double exposure. This was a great idea for a post, Stephanie. I love it when someone puts a spin on something I've never pondered. Good one!

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    1. When I saw the Will Ferrell picture, I couldn't resist. I'm not sure what the story is behind that picture but that's proof that a picture is worth 1,000 words!

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  18. My mom would give me a home perm and then the pictures would begin. Horrible hair and I'd cry and cry and beg her not to perm my hair. Never worked. To this day I won't do a perm. Oh the cheesy photographs I could show.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Home perms were the THING! They weren't much better in the salon. And the SMELL. My hairstylist said they still do perms but they're much more subtle. Now everyone gets "straight perms," since straight hair is apparently going to be the "in" way to wear your hair for the rest of time.

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  19. I still remember how the idiots taking school photos in fourth grade didn't even look at my form and just gave me a normal photo. I was supposed to have the Fantasy background, and I was so mad and disappointed when it just had a normal background. I'd been asking my parents for years to get a background instead of the boring bare bones stuff. At least it wasn't as awful as my third grade picture, which the photographer just HAD to take when I was biting my lip, my glasses were sliding off my nose, and my hair was in my face. My mother actually wept, "You look like you're retarded!" (I know that isn't an acceptable word anymore, but this was 1988.) The picture was redone much later in the school year, when I was standing in front of the classroom blackboard holding some kind of box.

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    1. The school photo is a whole nightmare in itself. I'm not sure what it's like now...it would make an interesting book but I'd have to actually find out how it's done in 2015 as opposed to how it was done in 1980!

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  20. LOL. Yes! I remember Olan Mills and the bookcase backdrop. Hehe. Double exposure—yeah, I guess you don't see that too much anymore. Probably a good thing. Thanks for the laugh! :)

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    1. It's kind of like the split screens you saw in the 70s. The end of the movie Carrie is an example. They thought they were so cool to be able to do that so they showed it off.

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  21. Those pictures certainly bring back memories! When I was a kid, we had plenty of those funky backdrops.

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    1. Yes, you can tell when a picture was taken by the crazy backgrounds!

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  22. It's not so much the effects but the fashions that are scary! That family with the hair look like a trio of yetis. But never heard of the double exposure. I wonder if they made a mistake and then thought it was a brilliant idea so they did it all the time!

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    1. You can see it in 70s TV shows, too. Shows like Hee Haw LOVED to do that while people were singing. They'd transition but during the transition, there would be a brief period of double exposure. It's a little weird, seeing it now! (Yes, sometimes we watch Hee Haw briefly just to laugh!)

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  23. Like Alex, school photos were all I had to endure. And they were bad enough. My partner's parents proudly gave me a photo of him aged about five in a bow tie though. Shudder.

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    1. School photos--every year. I wonder now if they let the kids see the picture, then retake it a billion times for the kids...you know the girls are doing that. "Can you take it again? Again? Another one?"

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  24. I remember my old photos in the early 90s being bad but not that bad.

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    1. Technology. We take so much for granted...like the quality of pictures we're able to take now with just a tiny smartphone! It's pretty amazing, when you think about it.

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  25. Love your picture! Since I was a Mom back then I am proud to say I never did that to my daughter but oh we had some of those big hair-dos!

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    1. Thank you! I had big hair--there's a photo out there that comes up when you Google my name and click on images...big hair city. But the girls in my high school made my big hair look like child's play. The popular girls all had big BLONDE hair...someone said they all looked like Big Bird!

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  26. There were times when I had to take Christmas and Halloween pictures with my siblings and was not happy about it. My face in those pictures is priceless.

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    1. Those forced pictures never go well. And then they make you smile and it's even worse than a frown!

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  27. So many memories from this post!!! I have some truly hideous photos from that era - bad perm and all. :)

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    1. I had a bad perm in the other 80s picture floating out there of me...but at least I curled it so you couldn't see the crazy curls!

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  28. I used to have a horrible family photo that was taken at Olan Mills. I think I left it behind when I moved out. We also had a photo of Favorite Young Man when he was about three, and his dad's face was in the double exposure spot. It was awful, but at the time, I might have liked it.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Oh wow--I haven't seen one where they put a person's parent in the double exposure spot!

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  29. I've seen them but never had one taken (nor do I know of anyone in my family who did) but I think they're cool in their own way. I have been seeing them online the last couple months, interestingly enough.

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    1. They are a little cool...in a kitschy sort of way.

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  30. I have a double exposure of my daughter when she was little;) And we have a family photo with the fake library;)
    Ah, memories.

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    1. You'd think they would have come up with a few more backgrounds!

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  31. My personal favourite was the backdrop with the lasers in the back...remember that one? A friend of mine had his grad pic taken while he was wearing sunglasses, with the lasers going on behind him. It's just as awesome today as it was then.

    Some things stand the test of time. :)

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    1. I had to look it up because apparently it was after my time, but if you Google "lasers background school photo," you get an eyeful. Those are hilarious!!!

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  32. That picture of you is adorable! And I completely remember these shots, but never suffered through one myself. Most of mine have the awesome lasers in the background :)

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    1. Thank you! I don't even remember the laser thing but when I Googled it, I laughed out loud at what I found. I assume that was supposed to look futuristic?!

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  33. Oh my gosh, I have a picture from Olan Mills with the wagon wheel and the library of books!! I am so old :) No, I don't have a picture like this with the double image so to speak. Only thing that comes close to it is a picture from our wedding when we are looking down at the wedding, but we weren't, it was just how the picture was taken (did that make sense?)

    betty

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    1. I'm old right there with you. You can tell the age of people by the pictures they say they have. Really young people don't even know what we're talking about. Young people had the laser backgrounds. And the rest of us at least have at least seen these pictures in people's houses before!

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  34. My mom has pictures of me with the double exposure. It was a really big thing. Maybe she was happy to sort of get two pictures for the price of one. :) We got family pictures taken every year up until I was in middle school and my oldest brother was out of the house. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :)

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    1. Two for the price of one. I never thought of it that way!

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  35. Nope, never had the double exposure shot. Did have the family portrait, though. (It's unfortunate because my hair turned out really weird. But I was having a weird hair decade.) And I do have a couple glamour shots. Those turned out really, really well.

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    1. I never had a Glamour Shots photo but at one time I thought it might be fun. I know in the 90s they were making fun of romance authors and Realtors who used Glamour Shots as their professional photos. You don't see that anymore!

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  36. Those double exposure shots do look pretty cool...

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    1. You're the first young person who has said that!

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    2. Hahaha I feel like I'm letting down the team :P

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  37. These are so neat. I'm before the 70s, but my sons and grandchildren probably have pictures like these. I'll have to check through the albums and see. Thanks for the fun post.

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  38. Thankfully no double exposures, but my hair was super big from like first grade until late middle school (then it was flat, straight 90s hair all the way) And I do have a school portrait with my cabbage patch doll. Nothing more 80s than that!

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  39. I was born in 78 and I don't have any double-exposed pictures. Now I want some. lol I'm going to have to ask my mom why she never did this with me. ;)

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  40. Yes, I remember ALL of these portraits. :D

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  41. I burned them all. No evidence is great evidence. Okay, maybe I just hid them somewhere.

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  42. Yeah! I remember! Hopefully none are lurking around!

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  43. I do remember those. I don't have one of myself but I do have one of my grandma and I actually like it.

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  44. We never got any of these done, but I must say...that picture of you is adorable!!! :)

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  45. Oh my goodness! Those photos. :) Precious. I was born in the mid-eighties. But I wish I'd gotten to be a teen around the eighties. It seemed like so much fun!

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  46. I'm so happy you are still here.

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