8. Meeting the photographers

Every photograph has someone behind the camera.

Many people made their livings as itinerant photographers during the early days of photography. Ben Shahn (the photographer, not the subject in this first image) was a Lithuanian-American photographer and muralist who worked for the Farm Security Administration as a photographer.

Itinerant photographer in Columbus, Ohio (LOC)

Many people are aware of Dorothea Lange’s famous image.

'Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California'

Shahn’s work is less well known but just as important. Shahn’s photographs documented rural poverty in the southern United States, helping boost support for public aid programs at a time when they were sorely needed.

Blind street musicians, West Memphis, Arkansas, Sept. 1935.
Omar, mining town, West Virginia, 1935.
Cotton on porch of sharecropper's home, Maria plantation, Ar...


Similarly, Max Dupain’s image The Sunbaker (alt: The Sunbather) is considered one of Australia’s most iconic photographs, one that the photographer himself had thought was lost.

Harold Salvage sunbaking, "The Sunbather" from Camping trips on Culburra Beach by Max Dupain and Olive Cotton

The State Library of New South Wales has the entire album of photographs, including this image of photographer Olive Cotton, that help contextualize the single image, one that is still inspiring artists to this day.

Olive Cotton, holding camera from Camping trips on Culburra Beach by Max Dupain and Olive Cotton

Max Dupain with his cameras by Olive Cotton from Camping trips on Culburra Beach by Max Dupain and Olive Cotton


Flickr Commons has many “meta photographs” showing people taking the pictures, or preparing to. From the Provincial Archives of Alberta…

Prehistoric Park, Drumheller, Alberta, 1974

… and the Public Records Office of Norway…

Hugh Annesley, 'Photographing'

… to the State Library of New South Wales…

Camera man with orang-outang, Taronga Zoo 1917

Men and women at the beach, filming with a hand wound camera, New South Wales, ca. 1935, Sam Hood

… to the San Diego Air and Space Museum…

CF_07-0129 L to R Unk Cliff Henderson James Doolittle Al Williams Speed Holman  John Livingston Tex Rankin Unk Phil Henderson

… to the National Library of New Zealand …

Herbert George Ponting and telephoto apparatus, Antarctica, January 1912

…to the Library of Congress.

Baron Carter De Marchienne and wife (LOC)

Sometimes the gear isn’t visible, but it’s clear you’re viewing a photographer. Here is a New Year’s card from Frances Benjamin Johnston an early American photographer and photojournalist.

Saluting Photographer Appreciation Month with greetings from photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (LOC)