Saturday, May 4, 2019

Missy MWAC Rescues A Photo

Missy MWAC got another piece published on Petapixel, in her apparently ongoing series of articles on how important old photographs on.

First of all, this one seems to contradict the previous one, in which she asserts that people love their old photos, and the Forbes article is wrong. How on earth, then, are there all these photos that need rescuing?

Set that aside. She has devised what is, in a way, a kind of fascinating way to, I don't know, create something from these pictures. She apparently has a plan to write stories for these old pictures she pulls out of old boxes and whatnot? Which is kind of cool, I think. I could see this as a thing.

Furthermore, her story is pretty OK. It ain't "The Gift of the Magi" by any means, but it's a workable little tale with a bit of wit, a good sketch of how sisters can really be, and so on.

There are two substantive complaints I have about the story itself, and then one further complaint.

Number one and most offensive, she paints the father as a drunk, or possibly a philanderer. By all means, the characters in your stories, whether long or short, can be whatever you like. They are fictions. This guy isn't a fiction. He was a real person. He's right there in the picture, and that is literally the point of this exercise. There's a fair chance some of the kids in the photo are still alive. To paint him in this light without a shred of evidence is libelous and mean. And it is unnecessary. The father's failings serve here only to illustrate and underline the youthful naivete of "Beatrice," a task which could be performed in myriad other ways.

Number two, "Beatrice" doesn't look irritated about her dress at all. Again, we're given a narrative idea based on nothing whatever. It's an inoffensive idea this time around, but if the purpose is to grant to the photo a sort of new life, there ought to surely be some connection. But perhaps I am reading the young girl's expression one way, others might see it another? Is there a peevishness to the eyes? I don't see it.

My third complaint, having nothing to do with the story, is that Missy MWAC is one of those people who spends a surprising amount of time yowling about the evils of Photo Theft, and appears to be doing just that here. There might be a fair use case here, but I am dubious. I do not think "illustrating my story" is one of the standard bits of case law (and I did poke around a bit.)


  1. This reminded me of:
    wherein a real journalist does some real research to find out the real story about some real and wonderful people -- also inspired by a found photo album. Quite a contrast to Missy's ridiculous, mostly unreadable effort!

  2. Or what about this, for the ultimate "true stories behind the photo" research:

    Quite extraordinary. At the fictional end of the spectrum, I quite like "Mrs. Merryman's Collection":


  3. Missy's made-up "story behind the family photo" is somewhat amusing.

  4. The image in question appears to have been taken in the 1930’s. Copyright is only good for 75 years (1944). Just an FYI...

    1. I believe if you inspect US Copyright law a little more closely it will become clear to you that there is no good reason to suppose the copyright on this picture has expired, unless you happen to have quite a bit of information about the photographer who made it.