This section is from the "Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1915" book, by Sara F. T. Price. Also see Amazon: Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1915.
The following address, before the Brooklyn Institute, Department of Photography, by Gertrude Kasebier, reflects the striking personality of the woman herself.
Filled as it is with her sparkling epigrams and pertinent truisms, it illustrates most clearly that while there is more truth than poetry in photography, a photograph lives and has its value because of its very truthfulness:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Your President took me unawares when he announced that I would address you upon "Composition," and I worrying about the Income Tax. Let the consequences rest upon him.
I have not the gift of graceful phrasing, but I had made a few notes to use this evening, when something happened, in New York, which changed the current of my thoughts and I know I must not say that which I had been going to say. There was an exhibition of photographs at the Erich Galleries. There was a dinner, where a number of the participators of that exhibition were present. There were a few speeches.
Among other notable things the assertion was made that we must devitalize art in order to produce true art. Modern, very Modern! They have even devitalized onions and we no longer have the flavor with our beefsteak.
Later, visiting the exhibition designated and there looking over some press notices, again I came across the words Devitalized Art. Then I knew I had to do with a current expression. I confess I do not yet grasp its meaning. Neither do I know what "Get my goat" means, but I have a lurking suspicion that Devitalized Art gets my goat.
It is well that each person may express his vision as he sees fit and as best he can.It is not just to judge another fellow by one's own standard.
To me, photography seems to be preeminently the medium of absolute record, with decided limitations on the imaginative side. While one may much admire a photograph of a Breton peasant on his native heath, it gives a jar to see him imitated, by the camera, in a Jersey meadow.
You may take parts of several negatives and by clever technic put together an agreeable picture. Unless there has been a definite conception, in so doing, it remains simply pretty and excites no emotion. You may garb a model in a Burne-Jones costume, move her about until she is well spaced, get a print from the resulting negative, which looks promising, invent a title for it and present a claim that it is art. It means nothing if you had no fundamental idea. It is beneficial as an exercise, but it was dead before it was born. It has no message.
You may plagiarize the creation of another. You simply demonstrate your own facility.You have passed the primer stage. It would be a waste of your time for me to dwell upon the platitudes of line and spots and spacing. We have reached the psychological mile stone, marking our photographic progress. Photography, so difficult to write about, to talk about, to make Understood as a craft or as an art because it has as such no established precedent.
Psychology as defined by Webster is the doctrine of one's soul.To this the chief feature, as applied to our subject, I should designate as hand maiden, light and shade. The skilled worker knows his tools and makes them do his will Do not force your medium. The large picture is not always the big picture.
FROM AN ARTURA IRIS PRINT
By Theo. Ragu St. Louis, Mo.
Avoid the ultra dramatic. It is wont to savor of self-exploitation. It may amuse for an hour, but will it stand the test of time? Do not be a weather vane. Have the courage of your convictions (as differentiated from self-complaisance which is fatal to progress) - and stand by them.
Cultivate simplicity. It takes a genius to eliminate the traces of labor from his production. Bear in mind that the abstract things of today are to-morrow the quaint things of yesterday.
Be sincere, be untiring. Wasted plates and disheartening failures belong to the drudgery of attainment.
Dream dreams, have ideals, accept the joy of it and do not aspire to skim the cream before you have milked the cow.
Our illustrations from the Ragu Studio, St. Louis, are of special interest because some of them are from Eastman Portrait Film negatives made under rather unusual conditionsof light. In fact they are real sunlight effects.
Mr. Ragu's studio, which is one of the photographic show places of St. Louis, has among other pleasing architectural features, a pair of large French doors at one end of the posing room. These doors open directly onto a large balcony or porch. It is a very comfortable and homelike addition to the studio with its potted plants and shrubs and broad awnings, but it is a rather difficult place to make pictures.
However, it was under these trying conditions that Mr. Ragu made his first Portrait Film negatives and the direct sunlight effects are not only remarkable but exceptionally pleasing from a pictorial standpoint as well. The exceptional latitude and gradation of the film, together with its freedom from halation, make such results possible.
While business ability does not as a rule enter into the make-up of a man of artistic temperament, Mr. Ragu seems to be one of the exceptions where the two are combined. And to his skill as a photographer there is an added charm of manner which places his sitters at ease and allows him to secure in his portraits that subtle something we call the personality of the subject.
With an exacting clientele - a studio that is complete in every particular - a grasp of every detail of his work and exceptional artistic ability, it is only natural that Mr. Ragu should have selected such a paper as Artura. The success of Mr. Ragu is proof of his good judgment in all things pertaining to his business.
FROM AN ARTURA IRIS PRINT
By Theo. Ragu St. Louis, Mo.
THE ONLY CONDITION
We make but one condition in our offer of cuts for the use of photographers.
It is obvious that two photographers in the same town would not care to use the same cut, and we are therefore obliged to limit this offer to one photographer in a town. It will be a case of first come first served. The first order from a city will be promptly filled. Succeeding orders (if any) will necessarily be turned down and the remittance, of course, will be returned. It is also obvious that we cannot, on account of the cost of the drawings, furnish any large variety of cuts at the nominal prices quoted, and therefore can offer no substitute cut. The thing to do is to get your order in first, as it would not be fair to give the man who happens to get in his order early one month, a permanent advantage; we shall book no orders in advance. They must always specify the number of cut wanted. These cuts consist of the illustrations only, thus making it possible for the printer to change the wording or the amount of space to be occupied by the wording if so desired.
E. K. Co.
Strengthen old friendships with a new portrait - the gift that exacts nothing in return, yet has a value that can only be estimated in kindly thoughtfulness.
Make the appointment to-day.
THE PYRO STUDIO
No. 210. Price, 30 cents.
BULLETIN: THE EASTMAN SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FOR 1915
Toronto, Ont...........January 19, 20, 21
Montreal, Que...........January 26, 27, 28
Boston, Mass............February 2, 3, 4
New York, N. Y..........February 9, 10, 11
Washington, D.C........February 16, 17, 18
Philadelphia, Pa.........February 23, 24, 25