puppy love

prize winning photo taken by a Graflex camera (1939 ad)

Toronto. In the 1930s when this ad was displayed (May, 1939 issue of Popular Mechanics) Graflex was a stand alone company once again and worked hard to gain access to the amateur photographers in America. The company ran photo contests and published the winners such as the photo at top left (called Puppy Love).

Folmer Graflex was the darling of the newspaper fraternity in America. It was a common sight to spot a mighty Speed Graphic 4×5 camera, complete with a large flash gun mounted on one side, in the hands of a news photographer – especially in the days when printed media refused to use smaller negatives.

Like all great marketing copy, the writers of this ad attribute the photo to the camera, not the photographer – suggesting you too can take a photo like this with a ‘Prize-Winning Camera’ made in America by Folmer Graflex Corp! They do name the photographer in a small cut line under the photo – William D. Barkley.

Another tip of the hat goes to my good friend George Dunbar for sharing this whimsical bit of photographic history with us. These days, I often see electronic companies like Epson (printers) running contests. And TV stations offering to ‘display’ great photos – for free – just send them in and hope.


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