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A woman in a corseted, white-lace dress stares straight ahead as she unveils a framed funerary portrait of another young woman. This sepia-toned 19th-century photograph is historian and curator Geoffrey Batchen’s choice for the very first image of “Suspending Time: Life – Photography – Death” at the Izu Museum, in Mishima.

The stiff pose, expressionless face and odd scenario is a far cry from the snapshots most of us are familiar with, where friends and family are usually smiling for the camera or caught in a candid moment. But they are of the same genre: vernacular photography — pictures of everyday life taken by amateur or unknown photographers.

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