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Display of Photographic Studio Equipment
Tintype, 1/4 plate, hand-colored
Cornell University Library
Curational comment from "Dawn's Early Light: The First 50 Years of American Photography", October 20, 2011 - May 4, 2012, Hirshland Exhibition Gallery in Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University
Portrait photographs in the 1850s and 1860s required subjects to sit motionless for exposures often lasting twenty to sixty seconds. To aid in this formidable task, head clamps and sit-still apparatus, as depicted in this tintype, were common to early photographic studios. "The public dreaded going to the gallery almost as much as to the dentist." One observer wrote, "Glare, bareness, screens, iron instruments of torture, and a smell as of a drug and chemical... a photographer's operating room is always something between a barn, a green-room, and a laboratory."
The source of the quotation is: Richard Grant White, "A Morning at Sarony's" in Galaxy, March 1870, p. 409