View Full Version : Banquet photography with... banquet camera - New York Times story

10-25-2011, 09:41 AM
".... After five hours of preparation, Mr. Gruber was putting the finishing touches on the creation of a single, 12-by-20-inch black-and-white group portrait known in its heyday as a banquet photo. Most popular in the late 1880s, when Mr. Gruberís banquet camera was made, until the late 1960s when it began fading from vogue, the large group photo all but vanished in a Nikon nanosecond. ....


(Apologies if this has already been posted. I did do a search...)

10-25-2011, 10:01 AM
Nice little piece. Thanks. They were still everywhere in the 20s-30s but seem to have died as a record shot format well before the 60s.

Jim Noel
10-25-2011, 10:14 AM
I don't believe I attended any large banquet in the 1950's that was not photographed with a banquet camera. Some as small as the 5x12, some were 7x17 and of course the indomitable 12x20 and 8x20.
The 7x17 I use was last use before I got it was in 1961 as evidenced by the negative in the contact printing frame included in the kit.

Nicholas Lindan
10-25-2011, 10:20 AM
Banquet photography was alive and well in the communist culture - endless pictures of delegates to 12th Plenary Session of the 17th Party Congress and other hit images. I suppose it is an advantage to one party rule: you can get all the politicos to stand still in one group for a portrait. I imagine banquet photography is still practiced in Cuba and N. Korea.

My father attended a medical conference in Peking in the mid 80's, before China was colorized, and was presented with an 8x24" [guess] framed print [B&W, natch] of all the conference attendees.

10-25-2011, 11:34 AM
tom yanul in chicago was doing banquet photography with banquet cameras until very recently.
he even created an enlarger to enlarge his 12x20 &c negatives.

it is nice that there are still people who carry on this timeless tradition .. !

10-25-2011, 02:16 PM
I love this stuff!

Do you think he uses honest to goodness flashbulbs? That's what it says and I imagine you'd need the high output for such a photo. 12x20, high f-stop for the necessary depth of field, wheww...

Thomas Bertilsson
10-25-2011, 02:30 PM
When you start to think about what it takes to pull the shot off, you get weak at the knees...

10-25-2011, 02:45 PM
Nice read. I really enjoyed that. Thanks for posting it!

10-26-2011, 10:56 AM
Forgive me for not having an exact reference. There was a thread on these cameras sometime ago, here or the LF Forum. Some one said that in Chicago there was a company that specialized in Banquet photography. They had a camera for each major ball room, pre-focused for a spot in that ballroom and stored on a shelf with several other banquet cameras, pre-focused for other ball rooms.

Chicago in the early 1950s was home to many conventions, because of its central location, many national headquarters and related entertainment facilities. Only a few business men flew and all trains passed through Chicago, going east or west. This was also home to Deardorff who were happy to make up a very heavy 12x20 for your shelf.

I have only seen one Deardorff 12x20 at an Art Sinsabaugh exhibit. One of these on tripod would melt the 100 pound shocks on my 7x17’s baby jogger. There are pictures of him with the camera on tripod on his shoulder as he walked around. Of course Art had three heart attacks and had died by 53. Then there is Kenro Izu and his custom made 14x20 Deardorff hiking around in the Himalayas. I can only assume there were sherpas.

John Powers