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Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:12 am
by Matt2
So I'm publishing a book on a Seattle architect. Everything is going great. I raised the money. Found a great editor and designer. The problem is graphics. Various archives in Seattle remain closed. It may be months before they will reopen and provide me with the high-res scans of photos and drawings that I need.

So I'm looking for other sources of graphics. Historical Societies, Libraries, Library of Congress, etc. The Getty has Shulman's archive, but I don't think he photographed much this architect's work. Are there other sources I should explore? For example, are there archives of photos used various architectural magazines from the 40's to 60's?

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:55 pm
by SDR
Well, what were the period publications (periodicals) devoted to Northwest regional building---if any ?

Do you live in the area ? Are libraries open ? Many libraries maintain collections of back issues of national and local periodicals.

S

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:09 pm
by Matt2
Everything from Architectural Forum to House & Garden, Sunset, etc. From 1940s through 1960s. Some of these magazines are no longer publishing. So are the photos they used in some archive somewhere? Or were they all thrown out?

The problem is the main repository is closed and and there's no telling when it will re-open.

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 7:26 pm
by SDR
See if you can find a copy of "NorCalMod" by Pierluigi Serraino (2006, Chronicle Books). While ostensibly a look at mid-century work in my neck of the woods, its subtext is that photography had a major influence on the dissemination of the gospel of modernism, and that some architects fared better in that regard than others. He mentions one of the architects he wanted to present whose photography is now lost, making it virtually impossible to illustrate his work.

The major architectural photographers of the period worked more or less everywhere, shooting projects on assignment by publishers. The less call there was for a particular practitioner's work, by magazines or book editors, the less likely you are to find photographs of their work---naturally. Julius Shulman and Ezra Stoller are the only ones of this group I have personally met---quite by accident; Shulman was inordinately proud of his filing system, which he claimed enabled him to lay his hands on any photo in his collection with little wasted energy.

I suppose you could write to each of the photographers you are aware of who might have shot Kirk, and ask if they have his work in their catalog or stable. I suppose you've thought of that . . .

If you can wait until early next year, I imagine things will have improved as far as accessibility.

S

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:42 pm
by Matt2
I'll have to look up that book. I've been in touch with Pierluigi about another book he wrote. That is a good point about the importance of photography, and I think that Paul Kirk became the go-to "Northwest" modernist for magazine editors. I'm sure that rankled his peers in the area. There are some Life magazine pictures of his work through Getty Imagine. Shulman photographed one of his houses, but the Getty Research Institue doesn't have it in their collection (so much for his filing system). I was hoping to find some archive of the big architectural magazines of the era.

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:19 pm
by SDR
I suppose reproductions of published photos would be better than nothing---but the only sharp images you could hope to print would be made from the original negatives, wouldn't they ?

Or am I only showing my age ?

S

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:00 pm
by Mark Hertzberg
Have you checked Seattle newspaper archives?

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:58 pm
by Matt2
High res scans of original negs can't be beat, but a dupe might suffice if not reproduced too big.

One now-defunct paper's archive is at a local archive that is slowly reopening. Another paper's archive may or may not still exist. Papers are running on financial fumes and the "morgue" is one area that has been dispensed with. Old papers are scanned and then all hard copies (and often original photos) are pitched.

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:12 am
by SDR
That raises a second issue: newsprint will never produce as clear an image as one printed on coated paper. In league with that is the likelihood that the newpaper photo is printed with a coarser Benday dot raster, to suit the rougher stock. Thus, magazine (and many book) photos would be much preferred ?

S

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:21 am
by Matt2
I don't even thing a Magazine photo would reproduce well. Perhaps if was large and the intended reproduction small. But there are some photos that I have tracked down to a photographer who is still alive, and he couldn't find the originals. Amazing how many photos were taken for magazines and the originals lost.

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:25 am
by SDR
I suppose that a magazine accumulates so much paper in a year, that saving all of it indefinitely is a non-starter . . .

S

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:41 am
by Mark Hertzberg
Newspaper prints would be high quality glossy prints from which halftones were then made.

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:49 am
by Roderick Grant
When working on reconstruction of the Barnsdall living room furniture, we had a connection at the Los Angeles Times who provided us with photos dating back to the 1920s that were as crisp as could be.

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:02 pm
by Matt2
One person at the Seattle Times said they couldn't keep all that archival material as it would be a fire hazard. That sounds like an excuse to save the time and expense of maintaining an archive.

Re: Sources of Architectural Photography?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 4:11 pm
by SDR
Good point, Mark: if good glossies were available, the negatives would be redundant ?

S