Selfie (/ˈsɛlfi/) – A photographic self-portrait

Most people think that selfies are a new phenomenon, but they have been around since the beginnings of photography. American photographer Robert Cornelius took a daguerreotype of himself in 1839.

As technology advanced, photographers, both professional and amateur, figured out new ways to take self-portraits. The mirror was a popular medium for the selfie. Even the ill-fated Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia took her own photo in a mirror in 1914.

Therefore, it was not surprising that the prolific Booth family photographer Henry Scripps Booth sought a way to take self-portraits. When using something like a Folding Kodak camera, Henry would have “tied a long string to the shutter release so that some member of the group could pull the string and thus make the exposure while remaining in the picture.” (Kodakery: A Journal for Amateur Photographers.)

Here are two examples of Henry’s technique in action:

Henry Booth and Carolyn Farr, titled, "'The End' (note the string) 1924," Pleasures of Life (POL 7.78.3)

Henry Booth and Carolyn Farr, titled, “‘The End’ (note the string) 1924,” Pleasures of Life (POL 7.78.3)

The Booth Family Fourth of July picnic, titled, "Thistle pulls the string – Indipendance [sic] Day 1925", Pleasures of Life, POL 8.13.1.

The Booth Family Fourth of July picnic, titled, “Thistle pulls the string – Indipendance [sic] Day 1925”, Pleasures of Life (POL 8.13.1)

Leslie Mio, Assistant Registrar

Balthazar Korab and his Island of Serenity

A great portion of the time I’ve spent as an archivist at Cranbrook has focused on our photo collections. It would be impossible for me to choose a favorite photo, but I definitely find that one photographer in particular always comes to mind when I get a photo request or when I conjure up an image of campus.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, architect and photographer Balthazar Korab (1926-2013) documented life and work here at Cranbrook for several decades. His iconic images continue to be some of our most requested.

Korab at work at Eero Saarinen and Associates, 1957. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Korab at work at Eero Saarinen and Associates, 1957. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Korab studied architecture at the Polytechnicum Jozsef Nador in Budapest until he felt the necessity to escape his country’s communist regime in 1949. He opted for France, where he continued his education at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, and received his degree in architecture there in 1954. During this time, Korab worked throughout Europe as a journeyman with notable architects, including Le Corbusier.

In 1955 he came to the United States and was hired by Eero Saarinen to work at Eero Saarinen and Associates (ESA). While Korab was worked there, he saw how Saarinen built models of his designs. Korab volunteered to use his knowledge of photography to develop techniques for dramatic photos of the models. This took him off the drawing board and he soon began to get assignments from other architects. What followed was an illustrious career photographing the works of many of the most significant architects world-wide, including: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gunner Birkerts, Minoru Yamasaki, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many others.

Yamasaki's model of the U.S. Pavilion at the World Agricultural Fair, India. Photograph by Balthazar Korab, ca 1959.

Yamasaki’s model of the U.S. Pavilion at the World Agricultural Fair, India. Photograph by Balthazar Korab, ca 1959.

Korab was introduced to Cranbrook during his time at ESA. In an interview for the Observer and Eccentric in June 1995, he said: “Arriving from a war-torn Europe, I soon was involved with Eero Saarinen’s GM Tech Center, a marvel of the dynamic, brash, wining face of America. It left me in awe and admiration. But my love went for the other Saarinen marvel, a then-middle-aged beauty, Cranbrook. It became a place of refuge and comfort, a source of nutrients for my severed roots to take hold in this strange soil. Its radiant aura was my inspiration.”

Oriental Garden bridge, Fall 1980. Copyright Balthazar Korab/Cranbrook Archives.

“Oriental Garden” bridge, Fall 1980. Copyright Balthazar Korab/Cranbrook Archives.

In the early 1980’s Korab was hired as one of several contract photographers here at Cranbrook. Over the next three decades, his images provided breath-taking panoramas, as well as minute details of the grounds, art, and architecture of this campus. The beauty of his work cannot be over-stated.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Editor’s Note: In an July 1998 article in ambassador magazine, Korab referred to Cranbrook Educational Community as his “island of serenity.”

A Rugged Individualist: Luella Schroeder

One of the best things about being an archivist here is learning about the amazing people connected to Cranbrook’s history. Part II of our posts for Women’s History month focuses on Luella C. Schroeder (1918-2004). In 1946, Schroeder was hired as an Assistant Preparator at Cranbrook Institute of Science. A woman of many talents, she worked at a book binding studio in Delaware and as a draftsman during World War II for Chrysler before taking the position at CIS.

Schroeder’s college studies were divided between the natural sciences and art. She later studied photography – a skill she relied on heavily at CIS – as the photographer of the Institute’s collections and exhibitions. A member of the Photographic Guild of Detroit, she was one of 100 photographers to be awarded a prize in Popular Photography magazine’s 1957 photo contest.

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Schroeder preparing an exhibition, 1956. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

In addition to her photography work, Schroeder created dioramas and models for exhibits and taught lapidary classes. Her love of nature was evident in her creations for the Institute – from plant life to insects to bee hives. In 1954, she built an elaborate hive illustrating the lifecycle and production cycle of bees. Her work was admired and praised by her colleagues and visitors alike.

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Bee Hive exhibition, 1954. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

After working at CIS for 12 years, Schroeder left her position in 1958 to pursue her hobby of silver jewelry making. She fell in love with Vermont, and moved there to devote herself to her craft. In a 1961, Times-Argus article she was quoted, “I wish I could tell you why I love Vermont, maybe it’s because it is the last stand of the rugged individualists – the one place where people still really make their lives for themselves.”

Schroeder’s hobby became her life-work. She credited the Institute in making her jewelry more creative (due to her ability to cut gems which she learned while at CIS). Her work was on display at several museums nationally and abroad, and was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair. In 1965 she created a pin she titled, “Forged Sunburst.” America House re-named the pin “Solar Flair” in an advertisement in New Yorker magazine and Schroeder was deluged with orders.

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Burlington Free Press, 13 May 1965. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Several pieces of Schroeder’s work were selected by the American House retail store in New York, which is sponsored by the American Craftsman Council. Her jewelry was also marketed by the Detroit Artist’s Market and the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts. In 1985, the Vermont Handcrafters bestowed a Lifetime Membership to Schroeder for her dedication to Vermont Crafts. Clearly her work and dedication made an impression on many – including the Cranbrook community.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

 

Photography: The Art of Our Time

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Cranbrook Archives/ Mary Ann Lutowski Papers.

Most people at Cranbrook have heard of Harvey Croze (1904-1973).  From 1944-1970 he served as the primary photographer for the Cranbrook Foundation.  During his tenure here, he produced thousands of photographs, ranging from sculpture and architecture to photographs of school athletics, parties, dances, and any number of other events.  He was particularly beloved by the Cranbrook Kingswood students for his jovial personality and sense of fun. He even wrote a song called the “Cranbrook Waltz” in 1953.

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Cranbrook Archives/ Mary Ann Lutowski Papers.

Croze was born in Houghton, Michigan.  Short and stocky, he sported a big, black mustache and a Leica camera.  A former long distance swimmer who tried out for the 1938 Olympic team (but did not make the cut), Croze was a painter, actor, and Dominican Republic sugar plantation supervisor before photography became his profession.  He studied modern design and photography with Nicholas Haz, took a photography course with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy at the Chicago Institute of Art, and studied photographic techniques with Ansel Adams in Colorado.  He acquired his photo processing skills when he worked as an apprentice in the darkrooms of Chrysler and General Motors.  And, he served on the executive committee of the Auxiliary War Photographer Service where he shot publicity photographs for the Red Cross and the service men at the USO centers during World War II.

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Cranbrook Archives/ Mary Ann Lutowski Papers.

The third of the Cranbrook Foundation staff photographers, Croze was hired in Dec 1943 as photographer and operating manager of the Cranbrook Photo department.  Located in the basement of the Academy of Art Administration Building, the department provided a convenient service to the institutions and in order to provide photographs for press releases, the photo department was available 24 hours/7 days a week.  Not only did Croze take photographs and process them with his assistant Agnes LaGrone, he also taught photography to Academy of Art students and ran his own photography business on the side, primarily catering to Cranbrook-related artists.   During his 27 years at Cranbrook, Croze photographed many well-known celebrities including Carl Sandburg, Frank Lloyd Wright, Basil Rathbone, and General MacArthur.

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Cranbrook Photo Department, 1940. Richard G. Askew, photographer.

 

Croze was also nationally recognized for his photographs and exhibited at the Detroit Historical Museum, the Flint Institute of Arts, and the Smithsonian as well as numerous one-man shows here at Cranbrook.   In 1945, he won fourth prize in the San Francisco International Color Slide Salon and in 1960 was awarded a prize in the U.S. Camera magazine photo contest.

In June 1970, Croze’s impending retirement as well as financial deficits of the department led the Cranbrook Foundation to close the photography department. The photographic files were transferred to the Cranbrook Archives where they remain today.

Leslie E. Edwards, Head Archivist

 

Photo Friday: Movie Magic

Cranbrook Academy of Art students participate in the filming of Jazz, CAA student Joe Munro's first experimental film. 1943, Cranbrook archives.

Cranbrook Academy of Art students participate in the filming of Jazz, Joe Munro’s first experimental film, 1943. Cranbrook archives.

Born and raised in Michigan, Joe Munro worked at Cranbrook as a photographer and teacher. Here he works on his first film, Jazz, gesticulating wildly at his actors while his crew, made up entirely of CAA students, looks on. Munro left Cranbrook shortly after this film was completed, joining the US military and serving in WWII as a wartime photographer.  With the end of the war he began a long career as a freelance photojournalist, working for LIFE, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. His archives are held by the Ohio Historical Society are definitely worth a look.

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