You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of old photos of strangers than me. When I lived in San Francisco I'd pick dropped or thrown away photos up off the street. I had a shitload of them that unfortunately got lost along the way.
There's such a purity in the old snapshots. People were either caught off-gaurd and often looked embarrassed or truly spontaneous. Or, they were very carefully posed, often doing their best to look dignified. The photo was a big deal up to about 20 years ago, and especially earlier than that.
And, that's what I love about them. The odd framing, the trust in the friend or lover taking the photo that shines through, a certain reluctance at times that you can almost feel, the pride of a new TV or of the individual.
Cameras were not ubiquitous and the reactions of people to them are noticeably different to me. The subjects photographed that were not people, I can sense the photographer's excitement of whatever it was. And the details. All the amazing details of the past; the AM only radio, the rabbit ear antennas on the TV, the clothes, the cigarettes, the signs. All of it I can gaze at for hours.
Nothing wrong with snapshots today but they are different. I guess one day people will reflect on all our files of of every detail of our days we record now. Or maybe not. It might be boring to see so much information. Time will tell.
But luckily, the internet has brought me to more old snapshots than I could ever have picked up off the streets. And for that, I am grateful.