Portraits of Buffalo Bill's "show indians"

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Wow. Love it. Only had time to skim, are they going to make a book? They need a book. Really impressive portraiture and so many interesting faces that beg to be drawn.

Also, is it just me, or is there a hint of a smile on most of their lips? It seems like in vintage photos too often getting your photo was a grim affair. And you had to stay still for the longer exposures.


These photos are from 1898, by which point they had actually been using high-speed photography for a couple decades ( Muybridge’s famous Galloping Horse images were from '78). The multi-minute exposure times were from the 1860s and earlier, but this was more or less the era of modern photography, when a studio photograph could be taken in less than 1/25 of a second, allowing the capture of fleeting expressions.


In my experience, people from a lot of other cultures have often wondered just what Americans are always grinning so foolishly about in seemingly all of their photos, even “portraits” for serious occasionas. I remember one person saying, “It makes your country’s people seem like such a silly people!”


I noticed the portrait had the black border, which indicates the unexposed bit of film between the shutter and the sprocket-holes above and below, and the little buffer either side between the adjacent photos. this is only found on film shot on rolls. the older, long-exposure photos were on individual glass plates and fully exposed, no “border.”

but I didn’t really think all that through until I read your post.

[which brings up a pet peeve of mine: traditionally, seeing the black border was “proof” that the shot was composed by the photographer as they took it. it was not a wild shot that was later cropped to fix the composition. people adding a black border to their pics in photoshop to make them look arty or old fashioned get the bozack]

ETA: also just wanted to mention that Käsebier wasn’t just some random photog, she was one of her time’s heavy-hitters, I remember that name from my art history classes.

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I hadn’t even thought about that - (Kodak) film on rolls had also been around for a decade at that point as well, so it was very much like modern analog photography. (Though strictly speaking the fast shutter speeds came about because of the silver-gelatin dry plate process developed in the early '70s and widely commercialized in the late '70s. So there was a good decade of short exposure photography on glass plates before film rolls showed up.)

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Wednesday night is Prince Spaghetti Night.

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