Philadelphia Map – Victorian Photographers

Here is the Philadelphia map of Victorian era photography studios.

J. Creamer & Co 18 South 8th Street unknown
J.W. Hurn 1319 Chestnut Street unknown
Gilbert’s Cartes-de-Visite, Photograph and Ambrotype Gallery 1524 Ridge Avenue above Brown Street unknown
C. Tolan, Photographer 924 North 2nd Street (above Poplar)  unknown
Lovejoy, Photographer 500 South 2nd unknown
F.S. Keeler 8th & Market Streets, SE corner unknown
H.C. Vansyckel 532 North 2nd Street unknown
Bellis, Photographer 508 Arch Street unknown
Lathrop’s Studio of Fine Photography 43 North 8th Street unknown
Sawyer & Bro. 522 North 2nd unknown
J.R. Laughlan’s Photograph Rooms 12th and Market, SW corner unknown
G.D. Wise 2nd Street & Christian, NW corner unknown
F. Gutekunst 704 & 706 Arch Street unknown (early)
F. Gutekunst 712 Arch Street unknown (late)
J.A. Keenan 526 South 2nd Street unknown
Rhoads’ New Photograph Gallery 1800 Frankford Avenue (corner Montgomery Avenue) unknown
E.W. Warren’s Gallery 1628 Market Street unknown
Chas. H. Spieler 722 Chestnut unknown
Broadbent & Co. 912 & 914 Chestnut unknown (early)
Broadbent & Co. 814 Chestnut ca. 1861
Wenderoth, Taylor & Brown 912 & 914 Chestnut unknown (late)
W.W. Seeler 8th Street & Spring Garden Street, SE corner unknown
Gilbert & Bacon 40 North 8th Street & 820 Arch Street unknown
M.P. Simons 120 Chestnut Street 1846-?
L.A. Sawyer 159 North 8th Street unknown
Rhoads & Shane 1316 Girard Avenue unknown
P.E. Lehillman 914 Arch Street unknown
T. Colbeck 8th Street & Sansom (SE corner) unknown
Applegate 8th & Vine Streets unknown
Van Loan Gallery, L.H. Purnell, Artist, Daguerrian Parlor 159 Chestnut Street 1840s
Willard, Daguerrian Parlor Market Street & N. 16th Street, A-B 1840s
Chas. G. Crane unknown unknown
J.R. Black unknown unknown

Good article on Artists’ Statements

I’ve been getting asked for these things more and more recently, and it drives me nuts – it’s not that I’m incapable of writing something thoughtful and relevant about my work, but I’m often submitting different bodies of work to different target audiences, and I have to compose something de novo every time I submit. It’s good to hear that serious gallerists find artists statements somewhere between a distraction and an obstacle to sales.

My most recent artist’s statement:

My work is about human relationships and perception. “Human Commodities” uses humor to deal with a critically serious topic – the way in which we categorize, pigeonhole and commodify each other especially when it comes to intimate relationships. Men, especially, and especially by other men, are categorized as desirable or not based on their physical attributes – musculature, age, race, hair or lack thereof. When seeking a partner, we tend to use food analogies to describe the object of desire. This is natural, as sex is surpassed as a primal urge perhaps only by food. However, by objectifying people, especially through a food metaphor, it reduces them and de-humanizes them. I mean to interrogate and trouble this objectifying process by throwing into (comic) relief the process of commodification of men. I mean to challenge the viewer to question the very stereotypes they use to categorize objects of sexual desire – what makes one man qualify for “prime beef” instead of “sausage”, and can those very same criteria be turned on their head situationally to transform the subject?

How does that work for you?

Victorian Era Photography Studios in New York

I’ve begun a project to catalog and map the locations of Victorian-era photography studios in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia. Using my own collection as a starting point, and skimming back-marks off cartes-de-visite and cased images on Ebay, I’ve come up with some lists, and I’ve begun to put them on a Google Map. Here is my New York list:

R.A. Lewis 152 Chatham Street * unknown
K.W. Beniczky #2 New Chambers Street, corner of Chatham * unknown
R.A. Lord 164 Chatham Street * unknown
Bogardus 363 Broadway 1860s
Bogardus 872 Broadway late 1870s
Mathew Brady 359 Broadway (1853-1859)
Mathew Brady 643 Bleeker Street (1859-1860)
Mathew Brady 785 Broadway (1860-)
Chas. K. Bill 603 Broadway unknown
J. Gurney & Sons 707 Broadway unknown – early
J. Gurney & Sons 5th Avenue & 16th Street unknown – late
Glosser 827 Broadway unknown
Vaughan’s Gallery 228 Bowery unknown
Bailey’s Photograph Gallery 371 Canal Street unknown
Loud’s Celebrated Album Cards unknown unknown
Fernando Dessaur 145 8th Avenue unknown

* addresses no longer exist. New Chambers Street & Chatham Street are now approximately where New York City Civic Center and Police Headquarters are now located.

I will be doing the same for Washington DC and Philadelphia as I gather more information. These lists are obviously incomplete – if anyone has more information out there on other studios not captured on this list, please pass it along! My interest is in studios operating before 1900, ideally before 1880. If you have information about a given studio during the Daguerrian, wet plate, and the early Dry Plate eras, please include that as well. In my simplistic research, I’ve been finding that along with the change in media, studios moved around a lot – Mathew Brady had four different locations in New York City alone between 1850-1860.

Whole Plate camera on The Online Photographer

Just came across this post on The Online Photographer (a great blog if you’re not familiar with it):

Although I do not consider my Whole Plate cameras to be “Single Use Devices”, I am truly in love with the format and am very happy to shoot with it, and even moreso to find another member of the (very small) whole plate clan.

Stieglitz Steichen Strand at the Metropolitan Museum

Over this past weekend I went up to New York to see the Steiglitz, Steichen and Strand exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had been hearing about the show from a number of people and wanted very much to see it based on their comments, but approached with some apprehension, as rumor had it that the show was too darkly lit and hard to see. That assertion was patently not the case – the only reason it was hard to see the show was the milling hordes in the exhibition salons. Bad for me, good for the museum, as it means attendance is at healthy levels.

The show features three seminal figures in early 20th century American photography – Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand. Stieglitz is the connection between Steichen and Strand, as it was through his gallery and publications such as Camera Notes and Camera Work that both other artists were launched to the public. Steichen and Strand represent opposite ends of the art photography spectrum in many ways – Steichen was very much in the photography-as-painting school of soft focus lenses and heavily manipulated prints, whereas Strand, who got his beginnings in the same theoretical approach, represents the “new” photography-as-photography idiom that declared photography should be accepted as an art form for its own merits, rather than try to emulate painting or drawing.

Stieglitz’s work in this show bridges both schools. Works ranging from his early New York street scenes and his Equivalents through his Georgia O’Keefe nudes and his late “straight” photography which returned to New York City as viewed from his gallery and apartment windows. The Strand work on display did little for me – they had a limited selection of his Mexico portfolio, which is his most interesting work to my taste.

As an aspiring gum bichromate printer and quasi neo-pictorialist, the work of greatest interest to me was the Steichen segment of the exhibit. Were it not for the constant need to evade elbows and heels, I could easily have spent an entire day looking at just the Steichen room, studying the prints. On one wall, they had Steichen’s “The Pond – Moonlight”, and three variations of the Flatiron building, representing the descent into twilight and nightfall. I had only ever seen these prints reproduced in books before, and so no book reproduction can do them justice. Previously, I had no idea the scale of the originals – I envisioned them to be at most 8×10 inches in size. In fact, the “Pond – Moonlight” and Flatiron prints were something in the 12×15 to 14×17 inch size range – quite dramatic. Not only is the paper surface wrong, but the subtlety of the color palette is lost to the printers’ inks. I have yet to figure out how Steichen did it, but the gum image itself had a surface to it that was as if they had in fact been lacquered, not formed from multiple exposures in sensitized chemicals. In other images, notably some nudes, brush strokes were clearly visible, adding texture and movement to the figures. It made me wish that Steichen were still alive or that I could go back in time to interrogate him about his gum materials and techniques.

Unlike the Steichen work, Paul Strand’s images were very much in the scale I was used to seeing them reproduced. However, the majority of his work whether silver gelatin or platinum/palladium was a rich brown color, printed dark and low in contrast. Most reproductions tend to boost the contrast and render his work in black/white/gray tones, which gives a very different impression of his work.It is perhaps the Strand work at the show that made people feel that the exhibit was under-lit, as his work is printed dark enough that it is hard to view in anything other than brilliant illumination. The rationale for this difference between original prints and reproductions I can guess at – people are expecting “black-and-white” photography to look, well, black-and-white, and even vintage work is expected to be somewhat contrasty. It is entirely possible that Strand went on to print his work with more modern silver-gelatin papers that have the cool-tone black-and-white look we think of today, and this was merely a sampling of his early prints from early images, therefore the book reproductions are not deliberate manipluations of his work – I have not seen enough vintage Strand prints to know.

One last aside – I saw a number of Stieglitz prints marked “Silver-Platinum prints”. I’ve never seen or heard of this particular medium before, so if any of the assembled ears here have any input on what makes a “Silver-Platinum Print”, please pass that along!

This gum bichromate thing…

This morning I started another gum print. Got two layers on today. I think I’m being deviled by that constant enemy of all hand-coated processes, low humidity. When my paper dries between coats, it dries out so much that when you apply a second layer, the paper starts to buckle even when you have the paper taped down to mask the borders because the gum emulsion is so much wetter than the paper. This means you have an uneven coat with some areas in the valleys between the buckled areas on the paper that get too much pigment, no matter how carefully you work the coating. I’m still getting the kinks out of the mixing process, as getting the right amount of pigment for any given color is a long cycle of trial and error.

Photography, Alternative Processes, Really Big Cameras, and other cool stuff

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