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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SUMMER IN ITALY, 1951

Photo Op: 1929

Photo Op: 1929

March 28, 1929. "Cameramen, Stimson office." Photographers on the occasion of Henry Stimson's swearing-in as Secretary of State. Nat'l Photo. View full size.

 

Sharp shooters

It seems most of these photographers are a surprisingly handsome young lot. Not what I expected from guys who prefer to be behind the camera. They look great in front of it!

Uncut

Their hair is surprisingly long. Funny that these same men would be calling the Beatles "longhairs" 35 years later!

Dressed like actual grownups!

Seeing this I think men should wear suits again, wash & shave daily and see the hairdresser once in a while too.

Speed Graphic

Most of the still cameras can easily be identified as 4x5-inch Speed Graphics, from the size and visible controls for the focal-plane shutter. Perhaps interestingly, only one is loaded - the center camera in the rearmost/topmost group.

The flashbulb had been invented in Europe the year before, but wouldn't make its way to the Americas until the next year. This looks to have been lit from two directions - possibly floodlights, probably flash powder.

Ah, the good old days...

I actually prefer the "dark" shot, as the inclusion of the podium gives you the true, so to speak, secretary-of-state's-view of things.

[I think it's floodlights. A cloud of flash powder casts very diffuse, ill-defined shadows. - Dave]

Let There Be Light

Could not help but notice ... no flashgun, no flashbulbs, no strobe light! Surprised they are using glass and not film, give them credit, they certainly had excellent results which we today should all appreciate.

[They seem to have used some sort of auxiliary lighting -- look at the shadows. I found a second glass neg that came out a tad dark. - Dave]

Where....

...is the esteemed and mischievous goat?

Speed Graphics

Those all look like 4x5 inch Speed Graphics. They produced a newspaper-sized contact print, so it was a lot faster to get a photos in the paper using them instead of a 35mm camera, which would have required enlarging the tiny negatives.

Note that a few are mounted sideways on the tripods to achieve portrait framing instead of landscape.

[Another reason not to use a 35mm camera would be that they didn't exist here. - Dave]

Ironic

There's something kind of ironic about a photo of photographers.

Wooden Tripods

These still camera statives (I own one dated about the same era) are very stable, yet much lighter than their modern versions, included the carbon fiber ones. The movie cameras, off course, are 35 mm. Still the hand held Arri started in the '30 as 35 mm movie cameras.

At the Movies

Those are both 35mm movie cameras. Interesting that one is sound and one a silent (hand-cranked, second from the right). The sound film still exists in the Fox Movietone collection at the University of South Carolina:

Interior: medium shot man helps get everyone in place. Medium shot Supreme Court Chief Justice William Howard Taft administers oath of office to Henry Stimson, the new Secretary of State. Note: emulsion deterioration throughout. B&W, Sound, 5.11 minutes

Is that Carl Spackler?

The guy squatting in front looks like Bill Murray during the Caddyshack era.

Bill Murray

... call your office. Isn't that him crouching down front and center? But, seriously, aren't those mostly Speed Graphic cameras? Ah, the days of 5x7" film stock, no feeble 35mm here. Except, perhaps, that movie camera, the film magazine looks a bit wide for 16mm.

[Most of the guys would have been using glass, not film, in 1929. - Dave]

 
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