Can you help me identify this image?
December 22, 2011 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me ID this photo?

Found clipped in a photocopier 7 years ago. Something about this image speaks to me and I'd like to know more more about it if possible. Funny leaf-raking stories in lieu of the provenance are encouraged.
posted by fatedblue to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What are you actually trying to find out? Where? when? Who?
Also, it might be helpful to know where that photocopier was - Maine, New York? Etc
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:43 PM on December 22, 2011

Looking at this picture, the question that comes to my mind is what issue is this old man grappling with. Anyone who rakes his front lawn in a perfect square, row by row has some sort of issue with order and neatness. I also love his hat. He is wearing it naturally in a non look at me I am a hipster way. Was a little disappointed he does not have plaid pants on. Looking at the house behind him, I thought it was interesting to note the addition to the house and how it connects to the original house. There also seems to be a pretty big lake or river behind the house.

Where (city, state) did you find this picture? I am betting this picture was taken in Pennsylvania somewhere near an older industrial town.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:28 PM on December 22, 2011

1. It's Halloween in the photo and there are green trees in the background and the man is wearing it's not somewhere super cold (or a very unusual year).

2. Colonial-style house with a deep porch very, very long median which suggests somewhere more rural/prairie in nature and southern midwest.

3. It looks like prairie vegetation to me. Just a hunch.

4. Looks flat. Another hunch.

If I were a betting person I'd lay it on somewhere around Indiana and work outwards from there.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd like to know where it is, when it was taken, and who the man is and also the photographer. And general leaf raking tips if you have any. My friend found it and I'd like to get a better reproduction if possible. I'll have to ask him where he found it, either Austin or Chicago.

The homeowner's compulsory ritual of leaf raking, lawn mowing, snow shoveling is both a curse and a blessing. The pride i feel looking at my just-raked lawn is greater than that associated with the filing of my TPS reports.
posted by fatedblue at 10:23 PM on December 22, 2011

@ jgunn, i agree this screams pennsylvania but really could be anywhere east of the mississippi right? I think what looks like an addition (to the back right of the house) might just be the neighbors' decrepit garage. but our raking man looks to have a badass garage back behind his house on the left, eh?

@jfish great eye on the pumpkins. id say this is in early late september/early october.

Something i just noticed. He's raking the wrong way! the way he's holding the rake, he'd be bring leaves back into his perfect little square. was this a commercial photo shoot?? the mystery deepens!

also, i'm the throw the painters mask on and mow those leaves type. the tedious raking/bagging process is for the birds.
posted by fatedblue at 10:38 PM on December 22, 2011


It's gonna be somewhere around Chicago.

Doesn't look like a commercial shoot to me, though the format doesn't look like standard 4x6. Old photo but not that old - it looks like it's from the 70s or early 80s.

Also looks like it may have been taken from a magazine or a book - it's been taped up on a cut/even piece to the left of the man. Do you know anything about its physical nature? Is it photo paper or is it magazine/book stock? Looks like a book photo to me.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:55 PM on December 22, 2011

You could probably get the house number (the black smudges above the steps) with this kind of magic...
posted by cosmologinaut at 11:17 PM on December 22, 2011

Here in Austin our leaves just fell en masse this week -- you don't get coverage that thick around Halloween time this far south.
posted by katemonster at 11:42 PM on December 22, 2011

The old squint-eye trick says 455/466 for the house number. If that's a lake off to the left and you're near Chicago, that's not a small amount to go on.
posted by cromagnon at 3:12 AM on December 23, 2011

I think it IS commercial... where are the juat raked leaves? The nice boundary of leaves to no leaves has no buildup of just raked leaveage.

Also I'm thinking its NOT a big city to have a ramshackle house on a small river. Could be any small town east of the missisp inclduing north of the border. (That could be straight outta caledonia ontario for example)

Perhaps cropping the house and use google reverse image or tineye??
posted by chasles at 4:51 AM on December 23, 2011

I don't think that's water on the left - I think it's another building. If you zoom in, you can see the overhang from the roof. Then compare it to the building on the right and you can see how similar they are. Weird illusion, though.
posted by chrisubus at 7:05 AM on December 23, 2011

...could be anywhere east of the mississippi right?

I see no reason that it has to be east of the river. This looks just like several older neighborhoods here in Springfield.
posted by General Tonic at 7:21 AM on December 23, 2011

I'm going to posit that the gentleman is not someone with a compulsion to be neat and orderly. follow the line he's forming up toward the top of the photo and it appears he's delineating a property line. why rake your neighbor's leaves?!?

I would put the time frame as early 1980s. From the state of the pumpkins on the porch, I'd say early-mid-October. The low house number (400s) might suggest a smaller city. I also do not think this is commercial, but is an 'amateur' candid shot that's well composed and primarily level (average people shoot slightly crookedly, tending to focus on the subject, not the background)

Beyond that, highly unlikely you'll learn more about this photo unless someone recognizes the house or the man.

Good luck!!
posted by kuppajava at 8:59 AM on December 23, 2011

It's gonna be somewhere around Chicago.

Likely not within the city limits, though. I live in the city and don't see a lot of properties around here as spread out as the one in the photo. That style of house is also not very common. It also looks like there might be a small lake or an open field behind the house, so maybe Northwest Indiana or somewhere in the more country-ish 'burbs?
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:19 AM on December 23, 2011

That looks like a gazillion houses in small-town Wisconsin. My grandfather wore that same kind of hat. German immigrants tend to have a compulsion towards orderliness. My only question is, what is hanging down in front of the middle window? Something from the tree? This stuff? Then it's gotta be in the south.
posted by desjardins at 9:35 AM on December 23, 2011

His right shoe looks kind of tapered, almost like a western boot.
posted by desjardins at 9:37 AM on December 23, 2011

I was wondering if the stuff hanging down was Spanish Moss, but then I thought it might be part of the cracking of the photoraph emulsion that is obvious in front of the two second floor windows to the left (which I think argues for a personal photo and against it being a commercial photo from a magazine).

But the big hanging thing in the middle isn't a crack in the emulsion. It could be Spanish Moss, but might it be toilet roll? Is he cleaning up after someone has toilet papered his house on Halloween? It might explain why he's only taking that bit of lawn...
posted by cromagnon at 9:49 AM on December 23, 2011

Well, it seems rather dumb of me not to have done this right off the bat, but I went over to my friend's house today and pulled the picture off the wall to see what was on the other side. Here's what's there:

It's some sort of guidebook or history of Kansas. The image of the man raking was on two separate pages in a magazine or glossy paged book and they were taped together. Some of the text says: "see The Making of America: Central Plains." It is from a National Geographic!

Here is the mentioned magazine:

But I'm stumped on how to figure out which edition or issue the leaf raking man is from. Any suggestions?
posted by fatedblue at 10:17 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, here are clickable links:

Reverse Side of Image

Nat Geo companion book
posted by fatedblue at 10:20 AM on December 23, 2011

Could it be from National Geographic mag? Searching the index for Flint Hills, Kansas brought up an article from January 1980 called The Tallgrass Prairie: can it be saved (cover says Can the Tallgrass Prairie be Saved) on pages 36-61. One of the subjects for the article is Flint Hills, Kansas-Oklahoma./Author Dennis Farney, photographer Jim Brandenburg. Check your local libraries for copies/microfilm?
posted by Saddy Dumpington at 11:11 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hmmm, maybe the photo was taken in Kansas City along State Line Road -- and the neatly raked leaves are right along the border between KS and MO? Or something along those lines.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:19 AM on December 23, 2011

Isn't that William S. Burroughs?
posted by From Bklyn at 1:53 PM on December 23, 2011

The man in the picture is Mr. Orie Heinold, and the house is at 637 Ohio St, Lawrence KS.

The photo was published in the September, 1985 issue of National Geographic with the article "Home to Kansas," by Cliff Tarpy. The photographer is Cotton Coulson.

Cover of Sep 1985 National Geographic
Pages 354-355

I'm Batman.
posted by General Tonic at 2:33 PM on December 23, 2011 [9 favorites]

Also, the companion book you referenced, The Making of America: Central Plains, is actually a National Geographic folded map included with that issue.

An uncropped version of the photo itself is in the National Geographic Image Collection. No direct links allowed, so just do a search for Lawrence, Kansas.
posted by General Tonic at 4:32 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow, thank you so much. Way to go GT, or should I call you Bruce?
posted by fatedblue at 11:27 PM on December 23, 2011

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