Theory & Practice

Behind the Image: After Thanksgiving Dinner, 1976

Funny, familiar and familial: Richard Kalvar's family photograph of post-prandial repose

Richard Kalvar

Richard Kalvar After Thanksgiving dinner. West Hartford, Connecticut, USA. 1976. © Richard Kalvar | Magnum Photos

In honor of Thanksgiving, Richard Kalvar remembers the taking of one of his classic family photographs.

What is happening in this photograph?

Two men are sleeping under the benevolent gaze of an angel. They have just finished Thanksgiving dinner and are as stuffed as the late turkey. Speaking of turkeys, the 101-proof Wild Turkey bourbon that they amply partook of has contributed to their deplorable state. The man on the left is my father; the other one is my uncle.

Where and how was this image made?

In Connecticut, at the house of another uncle.

What was happening outside the frame?

Other family members were talking and cleaning up.

If you hadn’t taken this shot, what would you have been doing instead at that precise moment?

Lying on the floor next to them.

Tell us a secret about this image?

My father didn’t have very good taste in neckties.

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