Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Camera Gals ! Nightclub Photographers and the Hindenburg. Sam Shere Master Photographer.

Sam Shere 1942 for See Picture Thrills Magazine

Sam Shere 1942 for See Picture Thrills Magazine

Sam Shere was a master photographer. You might not know the name, but you know one of his works.  Think "OH, the humanity…"  Mr. Shere took the well-known photograph of the Hindenburg disaster.  Apparently the International Center of Photography owns the original, as their PAGE HERE indicates it was purchased in 2003.  Iconic…and if a photo can be described as gripping, this one qualifies.  The photographer is quoted as saying "I had two shots in my big speed graphic but I didn't have the time to get it up to my eye. I literally shot from the hip--it was over so fast there was nothing else to do."  Amazing.  There was also newsreel footage of the disaster.

A working photographer gets up in the morning to capture events which he can sell, but I believe Mr. Shere loved everything about his  work.  The excitement, the equipment and using his skill to create art.  As seen here, he took a few pictures OF cameras too.  The other images here were published in the second issue of SEE Picture Thrills in 1942, three years after the Hindenburg.  Just two from the feature which was titled "Camera Girls Take Over" and documented women working as nightclub photographers during World War Two.  Specifically Shirley Seiler and Lillian Johnson.  Articles during the war about women taking care of business on the Homefront were not unusual, but the piece is hardly the typical "Rose the Riveter" story.  6 photographs of the women photographers at work, developing images and sliding them into souvenir folders for the patrons.

Shown in the photo above (cropped, as it is printed in the original magazine larger then a scanner can handle) are the legs and equipment of the intrepid supper club women photographers.

Although the article was titled "Camera Girls Flash Trim Limbs: Photogenic Nightowls (sic) Don't Give Two Hoots for the Traditional Birdie" this is no traditional puff-piece.  The photos are crisp and striking, and not just for the "limbs."  It documents a little known photography profession which would be worthy of a museum show. Souvenir nightspot photos have not had an institutional showing that I know of.  The profession, of course, has been virtually eliminated by the images taken by smart phones.  A few photo journalists ARE still at work.  For example, some wait at the finish line and sell images to marathoners as they finish.  Still, the once popular "industry" taking place at nightclubs all over the country is largely lost. 

The hard-working women here were creating memories in hard copy, not mere digital blips. 

Interestingly, one of the most handsome websites on the photographer appears to have been made for a class assignment.  It reveals Sam Shere had been sent to the location of the Hindenburg fire to capture "society type" photographs.  Indeed, it appears he barely made it there in time.  Just another shoot.

Additional photographs by Sam Shere can be seen at the Getty Images Life Magazine pictures site HERE and the Corbis site HERE.  Perhaps the best biography of the photographer is HERE on a website which indicates that despite taking one of the most recognizable images in history he died virtually alone and penniless.  Perhaps he should have taken more photographs of limbs.

NOTE:  The magazine SEE PICTURE THRILLS was published by Collegian Press starting in 1942 and the copyright on the magazine was renewed apparently in the 1970s, but I do know know if they retained the rights to the original images sold by free-lancers.  As far as I can tell, there is no official website or source for the photographs shown here, or for the photographer.   

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