What are these people doing??
Going through some photobooks in a library, I stumbled upon this fascinating image. Excuses for the poor reproduction. It is a bad BW copy of an originally sepia toned image, and the original image in the book already showed loads of dust and damages on the reproduction... There are two attached image, a smaller one for a quick overview, the larger one to show some more detail.
It's an image from the book "Nouvelle Histoire de la Photographie" and the original photo was taken by an anonymous photographer in 1865. The image depicts a stereoscopic images studio ("Atelier de photographie stereoscopiques")
I find this image fascinating because of several reasons. First of all, I haven't seen much historic photo's of a photographic "studio" of such old age and of this particular type. We often think of (historic) photographers as "solo" workers, or having maybe two or three assistants. Yet in this image, just 30 years after the invention of photography, we are seeing a kind of full scale reproduction going on on a scale I would not have imagined... I find this very revealing. In addition, there is something very "natural" about it, I really wonder if it's posed or not? If it's posed (and would that have been necessary in 1865?, considering speed of available processes?? Can someone comment on this?), than the photographer has done a pretty good job in hiding it and making it "feel" natural. I like how the people are dispersed in the room, and, despite their numbers, each person is clearly visible and it can be seen what they are doing.
That makes me go to the next point. What are all of these people doing? Clearly, there is some kind of (photo-)mechanical reproduction going on, but what process is used and what are all of these individual persons doing? A few things can be made out easily, clearly the man in the front right part, is using his hammer and some kind of help device to cut of extraneous parts of photos (or reproduced prints). But what are these girls or young women behind him doing? Is one of them using a stamp to mark the reproduced photos as being from this studio? Or something else. And what about all the rest of them? On the left, they are using a press, like used in some sort of "bromoil" transfer process...
Any comments and ideas by others
Last edited by Marco B; 06-04-2008 at 07:26 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Ok, since APUG doesn't allow very big attachments, the image below is linked from my own website. It's considerably bigger so you can more easily see what's going on.
And another question: what are these stacked small wooden "boxes" in the front used for?...
Last edited by Marco B; 06-04-2008 at 08:18 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Fascinating image. I would reckon it's a small factory producing stereo cards. (Lots of printing frames, bottom left waiting to be used.) Top left looks like curly drying albumen prints and the two chaps with the press are perhaps mounting them to boards seen at their feet. Several people trimming the cards in the foreground. Girls on the right pasting the prints to the card and the chap at the back putting them up to dry. Perhaps the bloke with the tool and mallet in the bottom right is applying the curviture to the card which was required for corrrect viewing. If so, he did a good job as all the existing cards today are still curved! It's 10.30 on the clock so time for a tea break though the gaffer in the middle looks like he wants work to continue. Great photograph, thanks for posting it.
Thanks Mike for already explaining so much...
But what do you mean by "curviture"? Do you mean the top part of the photo being rounded of? The mallet appears to be square, but than, stereoscopic images were probably treated different from the normal photograph. The tiny images in the back are also inconclusive, there might be curviture, but unfortunately they are out-of-focus even on the original photograph.
And can you comment on whether you think this whole image is posed and the possible necessity of that because of slow photographic processes? Or can it have been a more or less spontaneous shot, with the photographer just waiting long enough for the people to no longer take notice?
what a great image!
photography studios ( beginning with daguerratypists )
were always like an assembly line.
it is great to see how something we see and take for granted
in junk-stores was made.
i don't think the boxes in front are printing frames though, as mike suggested.
they look like mounts to keep freshly pasted/glued prints flat as the adhesive set.
the machine the boy is operating seems to be a press to flatten everything afterwards.
( kind of like a "nipping press" )
the guy on the right is die cutting the prints ...
thanks for posting this marko! its always nice to know our collective history
(added later: http://images.google.com/images?hl=e...-8&sa=N&tab=wi
not all stereo cards had the curve, i am not sure why some did. )
Last edited by jnanian; 06-04-2008 at 09:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: i don't know my left from right!
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Thanks John for the link to the images, clearly, the soft curviture visible in the images you linked, are also visible in the hanging photos of this studio.
Any more suggestions and ideas welcome!
The cards themselves were curved so they slightly bow out. I'm sure there are people here with far greater knowledge and a better ability to explain than myself, but I believe it is because it then helps to replicate 3D vision when looking at an image (stereo card) close up. From this website,
I've taken this quote;
'The earliest of these cards were made on slightly curved mounts; later
cards were made on slightly curved mounts that permitted greater clarity
when they were seen in the stereopticon viewer.'
More history at;
What guy do you mean, the one sitting on a chair somewhat to the back and holding a piece of paper or carton in his left hand while his right uplifted hand seems to be holding onto some kind of large handle? (unfortunately not visible what it is attached to, as that is hidden by the boys shirt in the front left).
Originally Posted by jnanian
What is "die cutting"???, especially the "die" part I don't understand.
die cutting is using a shaped cutter, called a die, to cut an item to a specific shape. The guy with all of the scrap at his feet is holding a die. You place it on the paper and whack it with a hammer. Saves time.
As a side note, I was working with these guys to make a 5x7 die to cut down 8x10 film. One of those things that never happened.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
A 'die' is a shaped cutter, used to give a regular and repeatable shape.
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.