Friday, 25 January 2019

timeliness, objectivity, narrative

We enjoyed learning about the career of America’s first credentialed female photojournalist, Jessie Tarbox Beals (*1870 – †1942) through her assiduous documentation of Bohemian Greenwich Village. I especially liked her neatly written captions of the characters and haunts she encountered. The school teacher and hobby photographer got her first professional assignment from the Boston Post to take pictures of the Massachusetts state prison, teaching her husband the basics of the craft and bringing him along as her darkroom assistant, and went on—aside from opening a studio and gallery in the New York neighbourhood—to shoot such events as the Saint Louis World’s Fair and its Louisiana Purchase Exposition, as well as photographing presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, William Howard Taft and celebrities Mark Twain, Emily Post as well as their furry companions.
While earning her bona fides as a night photographer as well, Beals’ breakthrough also reminds us how physically demanding and perilous taking pictures was (and is still a risky business), hauling upwards twenty kilograms of equipment and keeping letter-sized glass plates on hand for each exposure.  Much more to see at Messy Nessy Chic at the link above.