You said we’d go for a stroll, and now we’re lost in the desert

If I could ask this handsome couple one question, it wouldn’t be, “Why does it look like you’re in North Africa?”  No, it would be, “What is your relationship to each other?”  My first assumption was that they were sister and brother, based on the way they’re posed in the studio.  Then I noticed she was wearing a wedding ring.  Well, they could still be sister and brother.  Or, they could be a couple who just had an argument … because they’re lost in the desert.

She appears to be wearing a locket:

Topeka couple 4

I think he wins the sartorial prize, though, for his polka-dotted bow tie:

Topeka couple 5


The cabinet card was made in Topeka, Kansas, at the studio of James H. Leonard and H.T. Martin.  According to an interesting blog about Kansas history, the partnership lasted from 1874 until about 1887.

Topeka couple 2


So, what do you think?  Are they siblings or are they a couple?

Topeka couple 3



22 thoughts on “You said we’d go for a stroll, and now we’re lost in the desert

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  1. Could be either siblings or a married couple but I wonder if their positions have more to do with the studio setup than their feelings about each other. Also his hair or rather the lack of it makes him look like he just got out of prison!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Siblings. Ears, mouths, eyebrows, shape of face. Not sitting together because the rock’s too small for both of them and anyway he’s got a backache… doesn’t bode well for his later years, does it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I vote siblings. There’s something in the shape of their mouths and they have the same left raised eyebrow…maybe. I’m not sure exactly they just seem to share a quality of appearance and even in the way they hold themselves and look into the camera. I love your title! Made me giggle 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This photo ALWAYS makes me smile. I try not to make fun of anything on the blog, but this one is too much, with the fellow sitting stiffly on a rock, and the swamp with palm trees in the background…. Thank you for reminding me of this old favorite! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like siblings to me. May be the way she stands, taking a prominent position in the frame. (In olden day photographs, isn’t the prominent position reserved for guys?) A sister with her younger brother?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In group pictures, the central position would usually be occupied by the oldest member of the group or the youngest (such as a small child). With couples, the woman would often be standing and the man sitting, in order to make the grouping more compact. A tall standing man might be hard to fit in the picture, but if he’s sitting, that isn’t a problem. In the photo above, I think the man should have been standing as well as the woman, because his rock doesn’t look very comfortable to sit on. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha. I think I haven’t been as observant as you with photographs! Somehow, I thought that in wedding photos, guys would be standing and ladies on the chair! Or is it culturally different inEast and West? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, conventions do change over time. In the early decades of photography, I think the decision to have the man sitting was mostly practical, rather than cultural. In the category of Couples here on the blog you can see some other examples. From a modern cultural viewpoint, I agree that it would seem more natural to have the man standing and the woman sitting.

      Liked by 1 person

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