I think the reason I enjoy altering vintage photos so much is because they provide you with a blank canvas. When you don’t know who the person is, you feel free to interpret him or her in whatever way strikes your fancy at the moment.
Although most old photos are obviously posed like this one, it’s interesting that the subjects rarely smile or look happy. It’s more like a form of documentation than anything else; you not only find out what the sitter looks like, but also get some idea of position or social status from the clothing worn.
While I was working on this young man in Photoshop, it struck me that he could have been posing for a mug shot. Then I wondered what an artist might do a hundred years in the future with all those old passport and I.D. photos of us. I suppose by that time a program like Photoshop will be able to turn something flat into a holographic image or simulate its dimension and texture.