This portrait looks quite old fashioned, but it was made in the early 1960s by the Ninomayo Photography Studio in Los Angeles. Located in Los Angeles’s Japan Town, this Japanese American business began in the 1920s and shut down during the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans in World War Two. It started up again after the war and continued into the 1980s. A treasure trove of studio photographs was recently discovered and is being digitized by the California State University, Dominguez Hills. Read about it here.
Most of the portraits made by the studio were of the Japanese American residents of Los Angeles. Going by the last name “Tom” and the clothing of the woman, however, this couple is most likely of Chinese origin. How very interesting that she wears pants with her tunic, a dress style abandoned by many Chinese American women as they adapted to American fashions. Obviously this older woman didn’t need to wait until the 1970s to make her turn to pants.
I would love to know more about where the picture was taken. None of the other studio backdrops I have seen portrayed this imagined Asian theme. Perhaps it was taken in a cultural center. Doesn’t the man’s suit, even though out of style, contrast sharply with the woman’s work-a-day look? But perhaps there are elegant details in her outfit that I can’t see.