Approved biography for L. Whitney Standish
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)
L. Whitney Standish was a Boston architect, active as a pictorialist, teacher, and salon judge, from the mid-1930s to early 1950s. His wife, Barbara Stuart Standish, also exhibited in photographic salons and wrote a few articles around 1940.
Standish became interested in photography on his twelfth birthday, when he received a box camera and Kodak darkroom outfit. During high school, he worked as a darkroom assistant at a photographic studio. In 1936, he started interacting with photographic organizations, and three years later he was the president of the Boston Camera Club. He spent much time with the New England Council of Camera Clubs and the Photographic Society of America.
His pictures were seen in national salons and in the photographic press, most heavily during the 1940s. His most prolific exhibition season was 1945-46, when seventy-seven of his photographs were accepted by juries at twenty-one salons. Among them were Memphis, Minneapolis, Rochester, Wichita, and the Fifteenth International Salon of Photography, sponsored by the Pictorial Photographers of America and shown at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Reproductions of Standish’s work appeared in the American Annual of Photography in 1941, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, and 1950. They also were used in magazine articles he wrote, mostly for the monthly Camera. He penned pieces on toning and contributed an eight-part series titled "How to Analyze and Improve Your Pictures," that ran from December 1946 to July 1947. In 1949, he wrote the book Making Effective Photographs, that the Commercial Photographer called "an excellent working text for the serious minded amateur." Standish and his wife cowrote a column for American Photography that appeared for a year and a half during 1950 and 1951. In April 1952, Standish and his wife presented a joint show of their pictorial work in the Photographic Service Gallery, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
One of Standish’s most loved pictures was his End of the Road, a print of which the institute has. Depicting a small group of rural structures, it features elegant side lighting and highlights that the photographer enhanced by hand. The mediobrome process that he used allowed considerable manipulation, and the Dassonville paper he chose was a product preferred by discerning pictorialists. The picture was so important to Standish that he devoted an entire article to it, published in the December 1946 issue of Camera, in which he indicated that prints of End of the Road had been accepted at forty-nine salons. The article included two analytical drawings of the photograph, plus the image in three different stages of completion. The museum’s print has a large label on the back from a New York advertising agency, suggesting that it was offered for commercial illustration. And, this print also has good provenance, coming from the estate of Arthur Hammond, a longtime editor of American Photography.
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 1 June 2013.
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