Friday, May 23, 2008

Photography Lessons

Lesson One: Photographing the Difficult Subject

Once there was a big star; the first really big star, in fact, on radio: Kate Smith.

Trouble was, Kate was big in more ways than one. She had a figure just made for radio:

When she wanted to go into pictures, her avoirdupois became something of an issue. The studio's still photographers did all they could to flatter and to minimize. As above, they tried polka dots.

They supplemented busy little patterns with distracting foreground objects - flowers came in very handy:

When a full length study was required, they combined even busier prints with props that were both oversized and patriotic (she was, after all, the singer who debuted "God Bless America"):

In the end, though, there was only so much that could be done. Kate's screen debut, 1933's Hello, Everybody!, in which she played the challenging role of "Kate Smith", was not a success. Even so, her populaity continued for the rest of her life, and she's still fondly remembered.

Bonus #1: I bet you never knew that Kate had been a flapper in vaudeville:

Bonus #2: For a look at how television, several decades later, dealt with some of these same issues (with the gallant assistance of Bob Mackie), I strongly suggest that you click here now. You will not regret it, however giddy it makes you.

1 comment:

  1. Those shoulder pads did Kate no favors.
    She looks quite nice as a flapper however.