Monday, August 25, 2008

A Glimpse Into Photography's Past

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (or so it feels like) I was a collector and trader of all sorts of antique and vintage things. For some reason, I never got into collecting vintage cameras. Go figure. I was more into furniture, pottery, art, and ephemera. You should see all the nice pieces my ex-wife has!

My daughter was having a yard sale last week and, in her garage, she came across a box with some books and magazines I had packed-up at some time or another. In the box, amongst some other stuff, were a half-dozen issues of Outing Magazine I squirreled away. Outing was a late-nineteenth to early-twentieth-century rag covering a variety of sporting and related activities.

I picked out a February, 1894, issue of Outing from the box and thumbed through its dog-eared pages. Near the back of this 19th century zine were a few advertisements related to photography. I decided to scan a few of the pages, the full page ad from American Amateur Photographer (seen above) being one of them.

American Amateur Photographer was edited by Alfred Stieglitz, a major player in the history of photography. Besides recognition for his photos, Steiglitz is generally credited with forcing the art community to recognize photography as a legitimate art form or, in his words, " a distinctive medium of individual expression."

Thank you, Mr. Stieglitz! Every serious photographer today owes you gratitude.

Stieglitz was born in 1864 in my home state of New Jersey. (Add another Jersey boy to that big list of famous Jersey boys.) He was a great friend to photographer Ansel Adams whose photographs a few of you might, at one time another, have taken a look at. Stieglitz's photography is well-remembered for his portraits of the famous, American Southwest artist, Georgia O'Keefe. (The second Mrs. Stieglitz.)

A slight segue: Just recently, while wandering around YouTube, I came across a video interview with Ms. O'Keefe. She was 92 when the footage was shot. If interested, you can view the Georgia O'Keefe clip HERE. I certainly enjoyed it.

Seen to the right is another page I scanned from the same Outing issue. The "Premier Camera" advert, courtesy of the Rochester Optical Co., gave me a chuckle. (Rochester? Hmmm... Didn't some other photo company call Rochester, NY, home?)

According to Premier, "Bicyclists, canoeists, tourists, and lovers of outdoor amusements are not all amateur photographers but they should be."

Today, well over a century later, it seems that hundreds of thousands of photographers have taken Premier's advice to heart.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Sorry about that hideous line through the scans. It seems my cheap, Brother, scanner went and got it's glass cracked last time I moved. Oh well.

No comments: