Graflex - Prize-winning picture.

This ad for Graflex cameras wants you to take up a new hobby. Photography's great. Yes, back in 1948, even hobby-level photography probably meant developing your own pictures, which means you'd need a darkroom and some chemicals and, well, of course it's way simpler now that it's The Future. Duh. That's not news. What is news is the baffling picture they chose to feature in their ad.
"..for prize-winning pictures you need one of the PRIZE WINNING CAMERAS". Fair enough.. "Classical" photography places a barrier of entry in front of the hobby that I imagine eliminated anyone who wasn't pretty determined to be there.  To work a camera, you had to understand what the hell you were doing to a degree that most "photographers" probably don't today. Technology has just made it super simple is all, and that's neither bad nor good, just different than before.

Yes yes, that's not insightful or anything, but beyond the mere challenge of getting a discernible image down on film, there's the challenge of taking a well-composed or interesting picture.

What the hell is this, then? I'm not the Pope of Photography, but I do know a couple things about composition and stuff. Here's a boy behind a screen door, placed dead center in the frame. Kind of makes you cry, right? There must have been a huge pile of photos to choose from. Why this one? It must be artistically important for some reason. Graflex was a camera company, after all. You'd think they would know their shinola about nice picture. Let's just trust that this is a prize-winning picture, or at least prize-worthy, and try to figure out why...

-One in a series of photographs of superchildren by Arnold Pearson. Here, Lightning Rodney is photographed inside his Faraday cage, the only safe way he can interact with his family. Poor Lightning Rodney. So lonely, So positively charged.

-The boy has hidden behind the door, hoping to surprise his mother when she comes in carrying the groceries, including a carton of Faberge' eggs. The photo is significant because it captures the adorable stupidity of childhood: The boy doesn't realize that the eggs represent not only a significant achievement in the jeweler's art but also the  investment of his parents' life savings. His little joke may result in the ruination of the carton of eggs, and his family's future. Also, he's hiding behind a screen door.

-The picture portrays mankind's necessary ties to nature, despite all our pretensions of sophistication. The boy has finished doing his business out in the yard and is ready to come back in and finish writing his sonnet "My Mother, My Apoplexy".


Jim Dillon said...

Maybe this is a prize-winning piece of photojournalism. Wasn't the Speed Graphic a news photographer's camera? The horrific story was so fresh in everyone's minds in 1948 that no caption was necessary.

Those fingers aren't the boy's.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I looked up the Speed Graphic camera (which I hadn't heard of). It's definitely the press photographer's camera. The thing was effin huge.

Damn your quality joke. I've been scooped again by a commenter. I must be off my game. You win this time, Dillon, but this is far from over. You haven't seen the last of me.


Anonymous said...

May I add that a Graflex 3 Cell Flashgun was used as part of Luke's actual lightsabre prop in the original Star Wars "A New Hope".


I am willing to bet you knew that already.

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