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11 August 2010

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Hi -

Some good points made. You may find this of interest:

http://www.emilekelly.com/?p=178#more-178 (on my blog)

Emile

@Emile

Thanks very much.

I followed the link to your blog and like it a lot.

Folks, the link will take you to some fascinating 19th-century photos of black South Africans that Emile found in a local archive.

Look around the rest of his site, as well. He's a terrific photographer.

I worked for Constance Stuart Larrabee doing odd jobs when I was a college student. She didn't discuss her African photos much. She was more proud of and passionate about her war photos, and her later photos of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She told stories about her war days, but sort of shrugged off the photos from South Africa you're discussing in this blog when I asked her about them. Not sure if that speaks to her attitude of these photos, but for what it's worth...

Thanks very much for your comment, Linda.

It's interesting to hear that she didn't have much to say about her African photos. You're absolutely right -- she first achieved fame as a war photographer. But she was eventually just as well known for her African portraits. They were published in magazines and exhibited in galleries in the US, Europe, and South Africa. I wonder why she didn't have much to say about them.

Note: I received an email from someone who signed her name only as Diane, asking me to post this comment. I'm happy to do it for her. She knew Larrabee well. --John Edwin Mason

Hello, I just noticed this article and I was happy to see someone giving notice to the work of Constance Stuart Larrabee. I worked with her for years as a college student and continued as a friend. I traveled every Monday to Chestertown, about 70 miles from where I lived. All of her amazing negatives were stored in boxes in her attic on the Chester River. Miraculously, they were all in pretty good shape and we were able to save them!
During this time we got to work together on two big gallery shows, one for the National Museum for Women in the Arts and the other for SITES (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibits). I got to know her very well and how she felt about all of her work. She probably discussed the War photos more at this time because we were working so hard on putting the exhibitions together.
She truly loved her African work and the people. And she loved being a photographer. She prided herself on taking "only one shot, my girl, that's all a true photographer needs to take, there is only one moment and that is when you shoot". I can hear her right now!! Anyway, on the subject of your article about the man in riding breeches, this shot would have been considered by Constance as "one I missed". She and I worked on editing for shows, cropping, deciding what should be in and what should be left out. This photograph, has too many subjects, is poorly composed, and the main subject's eyes are closed. Rest assured, if the composition was not so distracting and the man in riding breeches face was a strong as the portrait of the Ndebele man, she would have used it. If she didn't want to tell the story of someone "challenging her" as you wrote, she would not have taken the picture.
How fortunate you are to have access to this body of work! You have brought back many memories for me and my Mondays on the Chester River, thank you so much!

Hi I came across some of her prints in a pawn shop and have done a little research I am looking to get them evaluated can anyone help me.

Tracey,

I see from your email address that you're in South Africa. All of the major cities have museum's that should be able to help. Ask to speak to one of the curators and tell him or her what you have. I'm sure anyone you speak to will be interested. Larrabee is highly regarded.

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