This Month in the History of Photography

The following events occurred this month in the History of Photography:

“When another hundred years have rolled around and the achievements of nineteenth century scientist have been sifted and weighed George Eastman will probably be place alongside of Daguerre. Daguerre is like the man who cut away the underbrush on the edge of the forest. Eastman swung his axe into the wood, made the clearing and tilled the soil and reaped the harvest.”

This fragment was taken from the first authorized newspaper biography of the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, titled “George Eastman. The man behind the Kodak” published on November 3, 1912 by the New York Sun. The article accounts the many achievements of Eastman and draws a profile of one of the most notable men in Rochester describing him not only as an entrepreneur but a philanthropist.

On November 3, 1903, American photographer Walker Evans was born in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1926, Evans travelled to Paris as an aspiring writer and there he encountered the images of Eugène Atget and August Sander. In 1927, back in the United States, he pursued photography as his own way to tell stories. Commissioned by the Farm Security Administration, Evans captured with his 8x10in view camera some of the most representative images in the history of photography that document the effects of the Great Depression. By 1938, he had his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, becoming the first photographer to achieve this distinction. His documentary style inspired generations of photographers and his images have been widely exhibited and published around the world.

Walker Evans, Posters covering a building near Lynchburg to advertise a Downie Bros. circus, 1936. U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black & White. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 USA.

Robert Mapplethorpe was born on November 4, 1946 in New York. In 1963, he enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he studied drawing, painting and sculpture. Mapplethorpe first took up the camera in the early 1970s when a friend loaned him a Polaroid SX-70. As a photographer, he worked for Andy Warhol´s Interview magazine and had his first solo show exhibition in New York in 1976. His intentionally provocative work in portraiture and figure studies often explores nudity and sexuality in a highly stylized way and he remains as one of the most influential photographers of the late twentieth century.

On November 9, 1924 photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank was born in Zürich to a Swiss mother and a German father. In 1947 not long after the war ended, Frank departed to the United States. In New York, he landed a job as a photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. By 1955, after being awarded a Guggenheim grant, Frank travelled through the United States with his 35mm Leica. During this period, the photographer shoot around 27,000 pictures but only 83 of those images were published in The Americans, one of the most influential books in the history of photographyBy the 1960s Frank turned his interest into film and since then he has produced a significant amount of independent free essay films including Cocksucker Blues, a documentary about the Rolling Stones tour in the United States in the early 70s.

“Cycling around the world” Photographs by MM. William L. Satchleben and Thomas G. Allen. November 15, 1890.

On November 15, 1890, two years after the introduction of the Kodak Camera No.1, the Penny Illustrated Paper published an article titled “Cycling around the world” with photographs by the American Tourist Cyclists, M M. William L. Satchleben and Thomas G. Allen. Both photographers traveled to France and photographed the scenery of their trip. The Penny Illustrated published the letter sent by Satchleben and Allen in full-page narrating their adventures in the European country and illustrating them with some “Kodak Views.” It is not uncommon to find these kinds of articles in the early days of Kodak. The Eastman company invested part of their advertising campaigns into promoting their products among cyclists including cases to attach their camera to the bicycles.

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