My Father, the Photographer

My father ran a photography studio in Ft. Madison, Iowa – that was called, appropriately enough, the Smith Studio.

He got the photography bug when he was a Marine from 1930-1934, when military photographers were national heroes – who risked their lives showing the people back home, how brave their sons were. And when photography magazines, such as Look and Life were fashionable. Click on the Look link to see what I mean – this was published in Des Moines, Iowa!

Back then, couples got married – then went to a photography studio to have their pictures taken. These pictures were the series of standard poses that everyone expected. There was nothing candid about them – and none was expected. People were more formal then – and everyone wanted to be seen as upper-class not the middle-class that they were.

Now, fifty years later – Americans would be delighted to have their middle-class world back. But, unfortunately – history only goes one way! That world is gone and cannot be retrieved.

We have progressed – but that progression has produced social decay. This is the irony of our times.

Back then, cameras were big, bulky things that took 4×5 black-and-white pictures – sometimes using flash bulbs that blinded you with their brief brilliance. There had to be a better way – and sure enough, we came up with one – the 35 mm color camera – using film that was developed for the Movie industry. A technology originally developed by the Nazis – who had a close connection to Hollywood!

This changed everything. And without our being the least bit aware of it – dragged us, ready or not, into another world! A change so thorough, we do not want to think about it.

And the Smith Studio went out of business.


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