In this post, part two of two on camera clubs and similar organizations formed in Georgia after 1880, we’ll look at the clubs and amateur activity in Atlanta and the surrounding area (aka Metro Atlanta). There were some fascinating personalities involved in these clubs and in the amateur photography life of Atlanta during this period. I had hoped to discuss the books and periodicals then available to amateurs (the first in the U.S., The American Amateur Photographer, began in July 1889), in this same post, but I’ll save that for another day.
I want to thank Marianne Bradley, Archives Manager at McCain Library of Agnes Scott College for pointing out the wonderful images of the Institute’s two camera clubs. My searches have turned up nothing more like those images, so I would love to hear about similar clubs at other Atlanta area colleges, in particular those at our area’s African American colleges and universities (HBCUs). I believe there were other clubs formed across the metro area, and it would be such fun to know when and where.
The following is not the result of an exhaustive search, and I’ve done no site visits. This text is a chronological account of information I’ve come across, often while looking for something else. The subject of camera clubs certainly interests me and relates to my project to document Georgia photographers, and these clubs have entries in my database. But – I do not plan to concentrate on this. I hope some my information on the people and places given in these two posts is helpful, and possibly puts someone a step closer in their research on this, or another subject.
The Atlanta Camera Club held its first meeting on October 15, 1888 when they selected officers for 1888-1889. The Atlanta Constitution covered the event. Officers elected were a who’s who of the city. The president was Sumner Salter, vice president C. H. Behre, general secretary F. J. Paxon, corresponding secretary Miss E. M. Lindley, and treasurer F.O. Stockton. The Executive Committee was composed of J.P. Field, C.A. Lane, Orion Frazee, George Crafts, and W. P. [sic; W.T.] Downing. (Atlanta Constitution October 16, 1888 p. 4 and Dec. 2, 1888 p.2; the Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin v.20 #3 Feb. 9, 1889 incorrectly reported that the Club first met in September 1888).
Several of these names are familiar to historians of Atlanta history, and certainly to historians of the arts in Atlanta. Orion Frazee (1848-1916), an artist, sculptor and art critic, moved to Atlanta in 1885 and left in 1894. In addition to working with the Atlanta Camera Club through 1890, he was the 1889 president of the Art Student’s League of Atlanta, and was known for his death-masks of Southern heroes.
Architect Walter T. Downing (1885-1918) was in Atlanta by 1876. He, too, participated in the Atlanta Camera Club through 1890. He established his own architectural firm in 1890 and probably had less time for the Club. He and Frazee were instrumental in the formation of the Art Student’s League of Atlanta. I have previously written about Downing, his photography, and his unfortunate death. See my post “Friday Frights – Some Less Than Usual Deaths, and One Close Call” at http://wp.me/p3wX4F-1W
The Club took its first outing around election day, shortly after its formation, to photograph Stone Mountain. Their second outing was near Thanksgiving when they took the rail to Salt Springs, and then went boating on the Sweetwater River. They took views along the river banks, primarily photographing the ruins of the Manchester Cotton Mill. The mill was destroyed by the Union Army, and those ruins, on what is now called Sweetwater Creek, are still visible today.
Even before the Atlanta Club was officially formed, stock photo companies were advertising to to the area’s amateur photographers. These companies included Schumann’s Photo Stock Depot (then at 63 1/2 Whitehall), who advertised in May 1888 that they sold “Photographic Outfits” for amateurs as well as professionals “for $10 upwards, with full instructions.”
Theodore Schumann (1823-1894), a German immigrant who arrived in Atlanta from New York, was a druggist with his own pharmacy who, by 1882, was also selling photo stock. By 1884 it was called Schumann’s Parmacy, Photo Stock Depot and Chemical Laboratory, and by 1885 it was located at 63 Whitehall and at 92 Peachtree St. He employed his son and his son-in-law in the business and the company continually advertised, both locally and nationally, until Schumann’s death. (Manufacturing & Merchantile Resources, 1883, entry for Atlanta, Georgia, p. 295).
By 1887 Schumann’s Photographic Bulletin, a price list with some notes on photography, became available. I have not seen this item, but it is recorded in the Sept. 24, 1887 issue of Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin (v.18 #18 p. 576) and I would appreciate knowing if any of you can point me to it.
At the end of 1890 Schumann closed his drug business and concentrated exclusively on photo supplies. In 1883 Schumann’s daughter Emelie, a musician, had married Charles H. Behre, a chemist. Five yeas later Behre was the first was vice president of the Atlanta Camera Club. Since he managed his father in law’s “Chemical Laboratory on Greens Ferry” [avenue] where they handled “large quantities of photographic material,” being involved with the Club was a very good business decision (March 15, 1884 p.1 Brunswick Advertiser & Appeal). He continued his community involvement and served as president of the Atlanta Orchestra Association by 1904.
In March 1889 the Atlanta Camera Club made another outing, this time to “the gem city” Marietta, where they visited and photographed at Sewell’s Mill, the Marble Works, the National Cemetery, and Kennesaw Mountain. Several Mariettians, all women, joined them afterward for a picnic. Dr. H. P. Gatchell was guide to a group of about twenty-five. (Atlanta Constitution March 12, 1889 p.5; Marietta Journal March 14, 1889 p.5)
The club’s movements were directed by Miss Marguerite Lindley, who has a large class in physical culture here. Among those who were present were [the] Misses Sharpe, Miss Schumann, Miss Gilbert, Miss Sterne, Miss Mims, Professor J. C. Lynes, Dr. Gatchell, Mr. Nixon, Mr. Sterne, Mr. Downing, Mr. Sharpe, Mr. Richards, and many others from Atlanta.
In October 1889 officers were elected for 1890 and the office of president went to F. J. Paxon. John Sharp was in Paxon’s old position as secretary, but other officers (Behr, Stockton, Lindley) remained in their positions. On the Executive Committee, J.P. Field was replaced by Miss L. [Lenonore] Schumann, one of T. Schumann’s three daughters.
They took another photo trip to Stone Mountain in November, and the Atlanta Constitution of Dec. 2, 1889 (p. 8) devoted several paragraphs to
Amateur Photographers / Who Take Pictures In and About And Around Atlanta / The Atlanta Camera Club and What They Are Doing – Other Amateurs Who Make Good Pictures But Are Not In the Club
If you must be an amateur –
If it must be –
Be an amateur photographer.
The Club had recently exhibited at the Piedmont Exposition and the newspaper mentioned the views were “not to be had for sale in the bookstores.” Many were landscapes of familiar places, and photos of buildings included the Technical Institute (Georgia Tech), as well as St. Philip’s, Immaculate Conception, and other churches.
“Very few amateurs can do their own developing or make the photograph from the plate.” Two members were singled out for doing their own developing and printing – Miss Schumann and Mr. Downing. Club participation in an Exchange Club, exchanging their photographs with other photographers in other places, is also described.
We are in correspondence now with clubs all over the north, and in Europe. — We send a picture of McPherson’s monument or the new capitol or Peachtree Creek – we get in return a photograph of Bunker Hill monument, a street scene in Berlin or London, or a view of the Gettysburg Battlefield.
“Where We Make Them,” 1886 Photographic Society of Philadelphia interior; platinum print by Robert Redfield, collection of Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Alfred G. Redfield (accession number 1988.97.20) http://artgallery.yale.edu
These Exchange Clubs had existed for some time in Philadelphia and New England, and in the 1860s the Amateur Photographic Exchange Club in those areas were exchanging stereo views. Several repositories hold views by that club and here is a link to those collected by Charles F. Himes, at the Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001696374/
In 1891, the New York Times published a tiny bit about the Atlanta and New Orleans camera clubs, saying “the field is comparatively new in the South,” but their photos had a “delightful spirit of originality about them to those who are accustomed to see the Bronx River over and over again.” They would “be much admired when they are brought North [as] lantern slides.” (New York Times Nov. 29, 1891 p. 10)
By 1914, an Exchange Club called “The Round World Exchange Club” had a representative for Georgia and South Carolina living in Atlanta, B. A. Mills, and photographs by Atlantans would be cited from time to time in exchange lists published in American Photography (v.8, January and February 1914).
The Atlanta Camera Club was listed among the “American & Western Photographic Societies” in the International Annual of Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin in 1890 (v. 3). This semi-official listing states their date of organization as October 1, 1888, and meeting the second Monday of each month at their club address, 66 1/2 Whitehall street. This was the address for the Art Student’s League of Atlanta where Orion Frazee, H. W. Barnitz, W. A. Sharp, and W. T. Downing were founders and officers as president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. All but Barnitz is known to have been involved in the Atlanta Camera Club.
In June 1890 the Atlanta Constitution brought out another article on the Atlanta Camera Club and other amateur photographers. This article included line drawings made from some members’ work, and discussed some of the club members. No one “had done more for the art” than now deceased first president Sumner Salter, who “used a small, convenient 3×4 outfit, made by the Boston Camera Company.” Sculptor Orion Frazee was “using a 5×8 outfit with which he [photographed] views of Richmond –” and “Miss Helen[e] Schumann was “one of the most enthusiastic lady photographers of this city.” Other members listed outside of the elected officers and board members were Mr. Vol Bullock and Mr. J. K. Ohl.
The so-called detective cameras are being used a good deal now. They generally resemble a little valise, which is so arranged that, by means of a separate focusing apparatus, by simply pressing the button the picture is taken instantaneously. The principal camera of this kind, are the Kodak and the Hawkeye. —–another kind [is] the button hole camera, the lens of which is so small, and the receptacle of the plate so flat, that while the former peeps through the button-hole, that latter is hid under the vest.
Mr. Downing “has probably done the most work and all of it is excellent.” Miss Lindley, who ran physical education classes, took time out “to tote about her camera, — and faces are present in many of her pictures, and pretty pictures they are.” The article is signed at the end “C.H.B.” which would be member Charles H. Behre, who closes with
Suffice it to say, in conclusion, that photography is on the increase here in Atlanta, and the devotees of the camera are many. Photography is the “craze” of the day, and a sensible craze it is. If you think otherwise, go and talk with some member of our club.
Four separate cuts were printed within the article, which the author “tried to reproduce here —- but all we can hope to get in a newspaper cut is some idea of the subject.” Of the cuts, two were by “Miss Schumann,” and “Miss Leonore Schumann,” but on July 1, 1890 on page 4, Leonore Schumann’s letter appeared in the Constitution under “Letters From the People” headed “Injustice to Her Sister.” Apparently these two cuts were reproduced from her sister Helene’s photographs, not hers. It seems that brother-in-law Charles Behre confused his two sisters-in-law!
Helene, like all the Schumann family members, is an interesting person. She was twenty-six years old when she married a German, Otto Kreuser, in August 1893. They lived in Germany from their wedding until they came back to the United States in 1906 with their two children. Because Helene married a non-U.S. citizen, she lost her citizenship and she did not regain it again until 1931, after her husband’s death. It was her good fortune to be out of Germany before both world wars.
The New York Times published an article on “What an Outfit Will Cost – Misapprehension as to the Expenses of Amateur Photography” in the issue of April 26, 1891, which was probably reproduced in other newspapers regionally. The article covered everything from the most expensive to the least expensive camera, and suggested that if one cannot rig up a darkroom “there are plenty of places to have the work done a moderate prices.” They went so far as to quote a British Journal of Photography article about “the photographer’s eyesight — whether practical photographic work unduly tries the eyes and what precautions are necessary —-.”
In 1891 the Atlanta Camera Club was not often mentioned in the newspapers, and according to an article published in Anthony’s International Annual & Photographic Bulletin (June 1891, pp. 161-163) by the Club’s Corresponding Secretary, Marguerite Lindley:
now, instead of eagerly flocking to the appointed rendezvous for a day’s outing, many permit dust and cobwebs to accumulate on their cameras in some remote corner of the store room; so that the Atlanta Camera Club is now composed largely of professional people, artists especially, whose various lines of work encourage photography—
Because this is not really a very different make up of Club members, it seems that Ms. Lindley was a wee bit ticked off with the Club, and she used this article as her vent.
She goes on to list the wonderful landscape opportunities in the Piedmont South, as well as the coastal shipping areas, and she notes (oh, my!) one can see there “— a gang of stalwart negro stevedores at work — the muscular forms of the men, often but partially clad, glistening in the glare of the sputtering lights, — as they occasionally burst into song.”
Lindley, like so many photographers from outside the South, was fascinated with the African Americans, and she wrote that “- – no matter where you find [the negro] — he rarely fails to be picturesque.” Just as fascinating to Lindley was the “cracker,” whom she refers to as “the white element in Georgia’s black and white studies.”
I intend to write about the turn-of-the-century photographic depictions of African Americans and Crackers in Georgia. According to my research thus far, these images were primarily made and distributed by non-southerners to be sold outside of the south.
— it is plainly evident that the decline of interest in the Atlanta Camera Club cannot in any way be due to the lack of interesting material at hand, but rather to the deplorable want of appreciative taste on the part of the members.
Lindley, originally from Union, Maine, came to Atlanta in 1888. In about 1892 she left Atlanta, where she apparently was not happy, and moved to New York City to carry on her work. She invented her Lindley Home Massage machine (we cannot help but wonder about this thing, right?), wrote the book “Health in the Home,” and taught classes and Chautauqua in various New England spots.
After 1891, the Atlanta Camera Club all but disappeared as an organized group, but companies within the state and without continued to advertise and sell to the city’s amateur photographers.
In June and July 1894 a classified advertisement ran in the Atlanta Constitution placed by a disgruntled amateur who offered to sell his entire outfit, “used only about two months and is as good as new” for $15.00, but “cost $20.” This fellow needed to wait four years, because in September 1898 the Atlanta Camera Club was reborn – “the camera fiend has come back to life.” This club, often called the Atlanta Amateur Camera Club, lasted less than two years.
The group first met at the offices of Dr. T. H. Huzza (1863 – Dec. 1898), who was elected as Secretary. Shortly before that first meeting, Dr. Huzza, a physician who had returned to Atlanta in late 1888, sent two of his panoramic city scenes to The Photo-Beacon, a magazine for amateurs. The photographs were “taken with the Alvista camera — with [it] set on end, so that the lens in its movement traveled perpendicularly instead of horizontally.” A few months later that magazine awarded him first prize in their Second Competition, the subject of which was “domestic animals.” (The Photo-Beacon, August 1898 p. 238 and Nov. 1898 p. 297)
Huzza was associated with the Atlanta Camera Club for a very short time. He died n December 9, 1898, in New York City, following an appendectomy. (Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 10 – 12, 1898)
At least two of the new organization’s directors were involved with photography as a businesses, R. Glenn and J. B. McCleery.
John R. Glenn and his sister Carrie (Caroline, 1857-1922) ran the Glenn Photo Stock Co., a photo supply business they opened in 1886. The company remained in business until 1925, but J.R. Glenn left Atlanta in 1910, and his sister only remained associated with the company another year.
James McCleery advertised that he worked “for amateurs only” and specialized in processing and printing for amateurs as well as loaning out cameras. The office of the club secretary was at 411 Norcross building, which was the same building in which McCleery had his business. (Atlanta Constitution Sept. 8-11, 1898).
In October 1898 the Club was in new rooms, numbers 212 and 213, in the Norcross building. There was a darkroom, a meeting room and a reception room. At a November meeting, McCleery gave a “demonstration upon the subject of photographing prints by artificial light.” By November 1898 the group had moved up to the Norcross building’s fifth floor, to number 513.
Through December they held a contest and offered prizes for the best picture of the state capitol building by a Club member and by a non-member, and all submissions would belong to the Atlanta Amateur Camera Club. Four prizes were offered – free membership in the Club plus six months dues, a copy of “Amateur Portraiture at Home” by Todd, a copy of “Second Steps in Photography” and 4th prize was a copy of “First Steps in Photography.” (Atlanta Constitution Oct. 16, Nov. 17 & 24, Dec. 4, 1898)
This iteration of the Club made it rather clear that women were not among those invited for membership, even though their two stated requirement for membership were (1) that one be a bona fide amateur, and (2) be of good reputation.
The Amateur photographers of Atlanta have organized a club among the gentlemen of the city having a penchant for photography. —- names will go before the club for consideration. —- Men who are connected with camera companies and manufacturers of sensitive papers will be invited to address the club.
In February 1899, the group hosted photographer B. Frank Moore who spoke on “The Different Schools of Photography” and he shared examples. Moore may have been reinforcing his superiority over his audience when he cautioned the amateurs “to avoid the methods used by professionals in their work.” (Atlanta Constitution February 11, 1899 p.10)
Edwin & Marguerite Stauffacher, ca. 1896 cabinet card made by amateur Earnest R. Aberli; marked address is for the business of grocer G. G. Sahli, where the photographer worked as a clerk; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth
In February and March 1899, the Club held another contest, “The Atlanta Constitution Prize Picture Contest” sponsored by the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. For the best view of an Atlanta building or street scene made by a member, the first prize would be a camera valued at $10.00 (on exhibit at Glenn Photo Stock Co.) and the second prize would be a year’s Club dues. The judges were photographer B. Frank Moore, a Mr. Healey, John R. Glenn, James McCleery and photographer W. F. Russell. (Atlanta Constitution, Feb. 12 and March 12, 1899)
In 1903 an article “Social Booklets Offer Field to Camera Fiends” was printed in the Atlanta Constitution on March 15th, and it was directed toward the female photographer. Perhaps she can make money with her camera!
The society booklet is the outward and visible sign of the “souvenir craze.” Is there a house party? Someone suggests that characteristic groups ought to be photographed for “souvenirs.” —- and here entereth the camera girl, armed with tact and patience. — For — indoor work she will need a knowledge of flashlight photography — there is absolutely no danger — and instructions can be secured from any first class dealer in camera supplies.
The next indication of any photo club activity in the Atlanta area is at a woman’s college, Agnes Scott Institute (Agnes Scott College as of 1906). In both 1903 and 1905 there were student camera clubs, and probably both clubs had a faculty adviser. Membership lists for both the 1903 Camera Club and the 1905 Kodak Club can easily be read by clicking the images below.
Membership List, and drawing by F.B.H., for the Agnes Scott Institute 1903 Camera Club (see group photo in Part 1 or at the link below) from the 1903 Silhouette page 102, collection Agnes Scott College, McCain Library Special Collections & Archives http://tinyurl.com/lyyal7d
Agnes Scott Institute 1905 Kodak Club and membership list, from the 1905 Silhouette page 119, collection Agnes Scott College, McCain Library Special Collections & Archives http://tinyurl.com/pqu8458
There was little about the camera clubs or amateur photographers that made the Atlanta news for the next several years, but cameras were getting better, more light weight, and easier to use, and the amateurs were still out there taking photographs. I have written previously about the February 1913 death of an Atlanta amateur photographer, Stuart Johnston, Jr. (see my post “Friday Frights – Some Less Than Usual Deaths, and One Close Call” at http://wp.me/p3wX4F-1W ). Activity in his darkroom reportedly lead to his death.
It was not until April 1913 that the Atlanta Camera Club was re-formed, “welded together for the love of pushing the button.” The Club statement for their existence was “for mutual help and improvement in photographic work among amateurs.” Their first meeting was held at the the Federation of Musicians’ Hall and soon afterward a second meeting was held at the Carnegie Library. Temporary officers were J. C. Symmes, chairman, and L. O. Surles, secretary. Surles became an “Album Director” for Camera Craft magazine for the state of Georgia as of April 1914, and he continued to work with them at least into 1918, after his move to Cuthbert, Georgia.
After the Club’s elections were held, officers were E. L. Marston president, Symmes became vice president and treasurer, and Surles (“founder of the Club”) remained as secretary. They issued a call for”All camera enthusiasts, amateur and professional” to attend future meetings.
By the time they held their first June meeting, they were located in the entire third floor of a building at the corner of Broad and Alabama streets, right on the car lines. They had a assembly hall, a portrait studio, a dark room, a room for enlarging and copying, and rooms for mounting and framing: “In fact, everything that the heart of any amateur camera enthusiast could wish.” (Atlanta Constitution April 7, 12, 16 and June 15, 1913; American Photography, July 1913 p.425-426)
Camera suppliers published advertisements during the spring and summer of 1913 touting the new Camera Club as a reason to patronize them. The Elkin Drug Co. began advertising on April 20th and the ad ran into the month of June, and E. H. Cone, Inc. (who had two Atlanta stores) advertised during the month of June, and possibly longer.
Like the club of 1898, the 1913 Atlanta Camera Club appears to have been for “men only.” In July the Club held an “Initial Smoker,” with “music, Havanas, and refreshments,” which was a
“howling” success last night. Seventy-five “young men and men who stay young” were on hand and enlivened the festivities from fruit punch to cigars in a worthy manner.
In 1914 and 1915 the Atlanta city directory listed the Club at 18 1/2 W. Alabama Street, but after that it appears the Club once again died out. Photo supply companies, of course, continued to advertise to the amateurs of the Atlanta area throughout the ‘teens and we know those amateurs continued making photographs without a formal organization.
In the summer of 1921 a “Snap Shot Contest” for the amateur photographer was sponsored by the Atlanta Consitution. A total of 115 cameras were to be given as prizes for the best amateur photographs submitted. First prize was a “No. 3A Folding Autographic Special, with a Bosch and Lomb f.63 asstigmat lens, kodamatic shutter, self-timer and portrait attachment.”
Atlanta’s photo dealers were to help entrants and “co-operate in any way with — developing, coaching, advice —.” Companies listed were Glenn Photo Stock, Goodhart-Tompkins, A. K. Hawkes, Tomas H. Pitts, Charles H. Smith, Camera Exchange, Georgia Art Supply, Silveus Optical, E. H. Cone (now with three stores), Rich’s, “and the hundreds of out-of-town dealers of the Branson Sisters’ studio.” Glenn Photo Stock Co. was showing 67 of the 115 cameras to be given as prizes. (Atlanta Consitution July 20, August 20 and 21, 1921)
All of these companies were active with the community of amateur and professional photographers, many of them had an interesting history, and some were in business for quite awhile. I will share details on these companies with you in a future post.
The contest closed on October 15, 1921 and William B. Thayer of Columbus, Georgia, won first prize. Among other winners were Miss Hazel Kirk and Miss Virginia Loving, both of Atlanta. (Atlanta Constitution Nov. 13, 1921 p.5).
The Atlanta Camera Club existed in one form or another as late as the 1940s. From 1947 to 1949, the Atlanta Camera Club, along with the the new Dixie Camera Club (founded 1946, and a member of the Photographic Society of America), co-sponsored, with the Atlanta Historical Society, photograph competitions and exhibitions.
Adolph Rosenberg, the Atlanta Historical Society’s Photography Chairman, stated the aim of this joint project
The idea was that today’s scenes are the basis of tomorrow’s history. — Photographs entered in the Exhibition were to remain in the possession of the Historical Society. They would then augment the already fine picture collection [of the Society].
The first competition, open to all photographers, closed in April 1947, and the first Annual Historical Photographic Exhibition of about 50 prints by the winners was held at the Historical Society in June. The theme that year was Post World War II Atlanta, and prints were entered into either the amateur, salon, or advanced group. Prizes were Atlanta Memorial Wedgewood tea cups and saucers.
The second contest, with the theme of Atlanta Architecture, closed in September 1948, and the Second Annual Exhibition was held in October. This time, $65.00 in prizes, trophies and ribbons were given to winners which again included both professional and amateur photographers. The third contest, with the theme of Atlanta At Work closed on September 24, 1949, and although entries were left with the AHS, the exhibit took place at the Great Southeastern Fair, September 30 – October 9. Prizes this year were cash, merchandise certificates, cameras, light sets, and a gadget bag. (Southern Exposure, April and May 1947 issues, The Dixie Camera Club; Atlanta Historical Society Second and Third Annual Photographic Exhibition brochures, Sept. 1948 and Sept. 1949; Atlanta Historical Bulletin, Oct. 1948)
There are similar clubs in the Atlanta area today for both the amateur and professional photographers. One of these is the Atlanta Photographic Society, and like their predecessors, they hold regular meetings monthly, host member or guest speakers, and have workshops and group critiques.
Again, if you have more information on Georgia camera clubs to share, please do. I know there is quite a lot more to be written on this topic. Until next time, I wish you a wonderful time with your hunting and gathering of information on photography and photographers, on your ancestors, or on any historic research in which you find yourself involved.
© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.