A new exhibit, “Portraits and Views: The Redlands Photographic Studio, 1897 to 1924,” will open in the Crossroads Gallery at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands on November 9, 2013. Reservations are now open for the exhibit preview party on Friday, November 8 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. The party is open to the public at no charge, but reservations are required.
“Today, with just the right mobile phone, we can instantaneously make potentially hundreds of photographs at a high resolution and send them to friends and family,” said Michele Nielsen, the museum’s curator of history. “At home, we can enjoy our photographs on a virtual photo frame, filled with scores of images that change every few seconds, controlled by microchip technology. However, not so long ago, photographs printed out on a paper support of one kind or another were a relative luxury. Going to a photographer’s studio and having your portrait or family picture made was a very big deal!”
Guests at the opening night party are invited to dress in costumes that relate to late Victorian era through the early 1920s, as if they were having their studio portraits taken. A “portrait studio” will be set up for visitors to shoot their own views using their cameras or cell phones. The evening, organized by the San Bernardino County Museum Association, will also feature ragtime music with Kim Hoeptner at the piano, light refreshments sponsored by Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and “treasure hunts” related to the images on exhibit. Guests can also try out 3-D images as they were enjoyed through stereoscopic viewers in parlors more than a century ago, and experience the wonder of a camera obscura. The party is equally suited for adults and families. No-cost reservations can be made at exhibitpreview.eventbrite.com . For more information about the preview party, contact Michele Nielsen at (909) 798-8609.
At the turn of the twentieth century, community photographers like Elias Everitt did quite a brisk business. While people did engage in amateur photography at that time, not everyone had camera equipment of their own, so the market for camera work done by professionals was still in full swing. Studio portraits, promotional photography, and private commission work kept Everitt busy. Today, the tangible results of the work of the Redlands Photographic Studio remain as a terrific window to the past.
The glass negatives and few film negatives that make up the Elias Everitt photographic collection at the San Bernardino County Museum number in the thousands. They offer a unique view back in time, capturing people, events, structures and landscapes. The several dozen images featured in “Portraits and Views” are visually stunning, featuring people and places that many museum visitors will recognize.
“Everitt was often called a ‘one-shot’ photographer, but we know that in many cases, he made multiple images of the same subject,” said Nielsen. “As we examine these images, it is clear that Everitt had an ability to put his subjects at ease and in some cases, developed a rapport with the person being photographed. That rapport resulted in some very insightful images. His architectural photography is equally fascinating. Interior shots reveal interesting details about how people lived in some of the homes that are still a part of the built environment in Redlands. “
The subtle details in the photographs can be very revealing. Circa 1890 or 1900, electricity for use in the home was a relatively new concept. Electric power for a room was often supplied from one cord with multiple outlets. Sometimes this single cord hung down from the ceiling in the center of the room, meaning that any electrical appliance had to be situated in that vicinity. Photographs that illustrate this would have been a real source of pride, but can seem a bit odd to those of us who are used to built-in wall outlets and permanent ceiling fixtures. By the same token, exterior shots of homes and buildings with the sprinklers going full blast might not have any special meaning today, but they were purposefully made to represent .modernity.
“Portraits and Views: The Redlands Photographic Studio 1897 to 1924” opens to the public on November 9 and continues into July, 2014. The exhibit, which is included with paid museum admission, is made possible in part by The Redlands Area Historical Society, Redlands Camera Club, Clara Mae Clem, Ron Running, and PrintProPlus.com .
The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 5pm. General admission is $10 (adult), $8 (military or senior), $7 (student), and $5 (child aged 5 to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.sbcountymuseum.org. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669.