Fire on Earth

Bitterroot Forest FireBehind the camera: John McColgan
Where: East Fork of the Bitterroot River on the Sula Complex, Bitterroot National Forest, Montana, United States
Photo Summary: An elk pauses to look at the Bitterroot Forest Fire
Picture Taken: August 6, 2000
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee, John McColgan

NASA called it “Fire on Earth“, TIME called it “Inferno” while Wikipedia has given it the name, “Elk bath“. In the summer of 2000, there were 86 major wildfires in western America. One of these was out of control in Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest. Fire behavior specialist John McColgan was tracking the Bitterroot Forest Fire that, on August 6, 2000, was showing no signs of slowing down. While analyzing the fire he was able to take this photo, on a bridge over the river, with a Kodak DC280 digital camera.

Taking the picture



Reporter Rob Chaney of the Missoulian was able to track down McColgan while he was in Fairbanks, Alaska where he lives with his family. When asked about the photo John McColgan remembers:

That’s a once-in-a-lifetime look there. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it ranks in the top three days of fire behavior I’ve seen … [The animals] know where to go, where their safe zones are, A lot of wildlife did get driven down there to the river. There were some bighorn sheep there. A small deer was standing right underneath me, under the bridge.”

One of his co-workers emailed the photo to a friend and from there it spread and quickly went viral.

Copyright


John McColgan took the photo while he was performing his firefighting duties as a representative of the federal government. As such the image is in the public domain and copyright free.

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Dresden Destroyed

Behind the camera: Richard Peter
Where: Dresden, Germany
Photo Summary: A statue on the City Hall Rathausturm or Tower overlooks a destroyed Dresden
Picture Taken: 1945
This image has some limited copyright rights reserved after it was released by the Deutsche Fotothek of the Saxon State Library / State and University Library Dresden (SLUB).

The logic behind the Allied bombing campaigns was that air attacks would force Nazi Germany out of the war. Working to this goal much of occupied Nazi Europe was laid waste by bombers manned by Allied airmen. One of the most controversial bombing raids was the Bombing of Dresden, Germany in World War II. Between February 13 – 15, 1945 over 1200 Allied bombers dropped their deadly payloads on one of Germany’s biggest cities. After the last bomber flew away the city was left in almost total ruins. It took years to rebuild and in 1945 photographer Richard Peter took this famous picture after scaling the city hall.

On the left Dresden in 1945 by Richard Peter and on the right Dresden in 2005 by Matthias Rietschel (AP)

On the left Dresden in 1945 by Richard Peter and on the right Dresden in 2005 by Matthias Rietschel (AP)

The Statue

The statue in the foreground overlooking the ruins of Dresden is often reported to be Peter Poeppelman’s “Allegory of Goodness” or “Allegorie der Güte” but the statue was actually carved by August Streimueller.

The Bombing Raid

The infamous Bombing of Dresden is still one of the most controversial actions of the Allies during WWII. Between February 13 and 15 1945 around 1,250 heavy bombers of the British and American air-forces dropping huge amounts of explosive and incendiary devices on the mostly wooden city. The resulting firestorm killed around 25,000 people and destroyed most of the historic city center. This happened even though Dresden was of questionable military value.

Richard Peter

Dresden 1945 and Now

Dresden 1945 and Now


Richard Peter was born in Silesia in 1895. While working as a smith and miner he was drafted into the army to serve in the trenches during WW1. After the war, he settled in Dresden and became a photojournalist for various left-wing publications. When the Nazis came to power he was blacklisted and used his skills with the camera to work in advertising before he was drafted into the German Army during WWII.

After the war he returned to Dresden to find the city totally destroyed including all his photo equipment. Using borrowed equipment he began to document Dresden’s literal rise from the ashes. Publishing his work in a book Dresden, eine kamera klagt an (Dresden, a photographic accusation).

Even with his pre-Nazi left-wing credentials, his life under the communist regime wasn’t much better. After investigating corrupt communist officials he was banned from government work but continued to make a living as a freelance photographer. He died on October 3, 1977, at the age of 82.

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Black Tuesday

Behind the camera: © Bettmann/CORBIS
Where: New York City
Photo Summary: Bankrupt investor Walter Thornton tries to sell his luxury roadster for $100 cash on the streets of New York City following the 1929 stock market crash
Picture Taken: October 30, 1929

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 was the biggest market crash in American history. Billions of dollars were lost in a day that would become known as Black Tuesday. The crash lead to almost two decades of worldwide depressed economic activity, known today as the Great Depression. America and the world wouldn’t emerge from the effects of the crash until World War II.

One of the most famous photos of this day is of investor Walter Thornton trying to sell his Chrysler Imperial “75” Roadster for $100. According to the postcard shown on this page, a 1928 Chrysler Imperial “75” Roadster could be purchased for $1555 ($21,400 in 2014). The Thornton picture shows the desperation of men who had lost everything on the stock market. Walter Thornton was so desperate for cash that he had no problem selling his year old car for $100 (US$ 1,400 in 2014) even though he was taking a huge loss.

The real despair felt around this time led to a number of myths surrounding Black Tuesday like the myth of finical investors jumping from the windows like lemmings upon learning that they were worthless but as Cecil Adams from the Straight Dope points out:

economist John Kenneth Galbraith … in his book The Great Crash, 1929, first published in 1955. Studying U.S. death statistics, Galbraith found that while the U.S. suicide rate increased steadily between 1925 and 1932, during October and November of 1929 [The time frame of the crash] the number of suicides was disappointingly low.

Actual Color Photograph of Chrysler 75 Roadster

Actual Color Photograph of Chrysler 75 Roadster

Copy Right Info

This image is handled by CorbisImages.com, the photo website for the Corbis Images network. This image, Man Selling Roadster After Stock Market Crash, can be purchased from their website at corbisimages.com

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Rita Hayworth Pinup

Behind the camera: Bob Landry
Where: Bed made up with satin sheets
Photo Summary: Rita Hayworth promoting the movie ‘You’ll Never Get Rich’
Picture Taken: Summer of 1941, August 11th edition of LIFE

In 1941 the American people, for the most part, wanted to stay out of the war raging in Europe. While the Axis and Allies fought it out in North Africa, in the USA life continued as usual. Factories produced, farmers farmed and Hollywood pumped out movies. LIFE magazine in cooperation with the movie studios would often do photo shoots of upcoming stars to promote their movies. In 1941 Rita Hayworth was making You’ll Never Get Rich and so in its August 11, 1941 edition, LIFE did a photo spread for the movie. A few months later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor dragging America into WWII. As young Americans left for combat they grabbed Hayworth’s picture to keep them company, by the end of the war over 5 million copies were printed making it one of the most famous pictures of the war, second only to Betty Grable’s Pinup. In December of 2002 the dress she wore in the picture sold at Sothebys for $26,887 USD.

Life Magazine

In the 1940s LIFE magazine was a huge platform for Hollywood to advertise its upcoming releases. Movies it spotlighted would drive the crowds into the theaters. Columbia Pictures was able to successfully lobby to have its upcoming movie, You’ll Never Get Rich featured in the August 11, 1941 of LIFE Magazine.

Taking the Picture

John G. Morris in his book “Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism” remembers:

One day, a Columbia Pictures press agent named Magda Maskel suggested photographing Rita Hayworth in a black lace nightgown that Maskel’s mother had made. [Life’s Hollywood correspondent, Richard] Pollard and photographer Bob Landry met Maskel at Hayworth’s apartment. She knelt on a bed in the nightie, looking provocative, and Landry snapped away. Good, but something else might be done. Pollard spoke up: “Rita, take a deep breath.” That was it. The perfect frame. — John G. Morris Photo editor

Bob Landry

After doing Hayworth’s photo spread Landry was still a new photographer in the business and so he was sent to report on American naval exercises in the Pacific in December of 1941. While the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Bob Landry was only 100 miles (160 km) out from the naval base. He was one of the first reporters to witness the carnage of the attack, but a lot of the photos he took were delayed for months due to censorship concerns. During the war, Landry would shoot five LIFE covers during his first year with the magazine.

Rita Hayworth

Hayworth was actually signed with Fox Studios for several months under the name of Rita Cansino before after six months Fox dropped her. She did a number of independent films before catching the eye of Columbia Pictures who signed her in the 1930s. Her break out role was a minor part in Only Angels Have Wings. As her popularity peaked in the late 40s on May 27, 1949 she married the British based Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan a son of Aga Khan III, then the head of the Ismaili Muslims. Their wedding, her third including one to Orson Welles, was a huge affair that captured the world’s attention. It soon dissolved in 1953 and she returned to film work, her career went well into the 70s when she started showing signs of dementia, doing her last movie, The Wrath of God in 1972.

After having trouble remembering simple things about her life she was told by doctors that she had Alzheimer’s disease. Her celebrity brought a lot of attention and research funding for, what was then a little-understood disease. When she died on May 14, 1987, President Reagan (not yet diagnosed himself) praised her contribution and brave face towards the disease. In a moment of lucid thought, she once told an interviewer, “whatever you write about me, don’t make it sad.”

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Uncle Sam Wants You

Behind the camera: James Montgomery Flagg
Where: Flagg’s Studio
Photo Summary: Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer in such a way that the finger seems to follow the viewer around the room.
Picture Taken: Originally published as the cover for the July 6, 1916, issue of Leslie’s Weekly with the title ‘What Are You Doing for Preparedness?’. Released as a poster in 1917.
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee, James Montgomery Flagg

This World War I recruitment poster image of Uncle Sam is one of the most recognized posters in the world. The poster cemented the image of bearded Uncle Sam and over 4 million posters were created. It became so popular that it was recreated for World War II and since then used as inspiration for countless other posters.

Painting Uncle Sam


James Montgomery Flagg

James Montgomery Flagg


James Montgomery Flagg originally created the image for the July 6, 1916, issue of Leslie’s Weekly with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?”. When America entered World War I the federal government set up a propaganda division called, Committee on Public Information, headed by one George Creel. Creel, in turn, created a Committee of Pictorial Publicity (COPP) which was to specialize in creating pro-war posters. Flagg joined COPP in 1917 and redesigned his earlier Leslie magazine cover into the present famous poster.

The image is actually based on a very popular British recruitment poster, Kitchener Wants You! (Shown Below), published in 1914 and designed by artist Alfred Leete. Looking for a more stern face for Uncle Sam Flagg used his own features for the face and, “an inescapable, slacker-accusing finger, demanding: I WANT YOU.” During World War II when presenting a copy to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Flagg remarked that he had used his own face. Roosevelt replied: “I congratulate you on your resourcefulness in saving model hire. Your method suggests Yankee forebears.”

Uncle Sam


Uncle Sam points from the cover of Leslie's Magazine Feb 15 1917

Uncle Sam points from his 2nd Front Cover of Leslie’s Magazine on Feb 15 1917


Uncle Sam’s origins remain rather murky but seem to have come from the war effort surrounding the War of 1812 when America tried to conquer its northern neighbor, Canada. Legend has it that the meat that the soldiers received had the initials E.A.– the U.S. stamped on all the army-bound food. E.A. stood for government subcontractor Elbert Anderson and the U.S. stood for the United States of America. Some of the soldiers didn’t make the connection and when asked what the initials stood for army suppliers told them, “Elbert Anderson and Uncle Sam” Uncle Sam being another contractor who supplied meat, a much loved Sam Wilson. History.com claims that on Sept 7, 1813, the “United States gets its nickname, Uncle Sam.”
Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope remarks that the story is, “Very neat, but is it true? On the surface, it might seem so. Researchers have established that Elbert Anderson and Sam Wilson did exist and did supply meat to the government during the War of 1812. What’s more, the earliest known reference to Uncle Sam in the sense of the U.S. government appeared in 1813 in the Troy Post.”

However, the first connection with Uncle Sam equaling Sam Wilson doesn’t appear in print until almost 30 years later. Even when Sam Wilson died in 1854 his home papers didn’t mention the Sam Wilson, Uncle Sam connection. The post in 1816 did print a story claiming that Uncle Sam originated from the United States Light Dragoons (USLD) a regiment formed in 1807. This story claims that when asked what was said on their hats the USLD soldiers would say, “Uncle Sam’s Lazy Dogs.” In any event, Uncle Sam’s origins will remain shrouded in history.

Similar Posters







Have You Volunteered For The Red Army? Print

Have You Volunteered For The Red Army?





Lord Kitchener Your Country Needs You Art Poster

Lord Kitchener Your Country Needs You Art




SaoPaulo Constitutionalist Revolution 1932

SaoPaulo Constitutionalist Revolution 1932


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The Train Leaves the Station

Behind the camera: Roger Viollet (left) and Lévy et fils (right)
Where: Gare Montparnasse, Train Station, Paris, France
Photo Summary: Granville-Paris Express rail engine 120-721 after it crashed through the station wall and onto the street
Picture Taken: October 22, 1895
This image is in the public domain because of its age

As the Granville-to-Paris Express approached Montparnasse Station conductor Guillaume-Marie Pellerin looked at his watch. Knowing that he was going to be a few minutes late for the train’s 15:55 arrival time Pellerin kept the train running at high speed as he completed the approach to the station. Pellerin knew he could maintain the high speed and when he was close to the station he would apply the Westinghouse air brake to safely bring the train to a stop. However, on this October 22 in 1895 the Westinghouse brake system failed and at full speed, the train crashed through 100 ft (30m) of the station concourse, smashed through a two feet (0.6m) wall and sailed two stories to the ground below. The image now long since out of copyright is often used by poster companies to show images where something failed or went wrong.

The accident


Accident Montparnasse etching

Le Journal Illustré used the image as a basis for their front page etching


Montparnasse Station is one of the oldest stations in Paris have been in operation since 1840. In 1852 the station as to how it looks in the photo was completed based on the design of architect Victor Lenoir. The trains would arrive on the first floor but in front of the station, a sunken road called the Place de Rennes carried a tramway between the station and Place de l’Etoile.

Locomotive No. 721 a 2-4-0 (or type 120 using the French system) was used for the Granville-to-Paris Express which left Granville every day at 08:45. Nothing was different on the day of the accident with the train conductor Guillaume-Marie Pellerin, a 19-year railroad man, leaving at 08:45. During his run, the train began to fall behind and after the last stop before Montparnasse had 131 passengers aboard. To make up for lost time Pellerin made the infamous decision to enter the station area at cruising speed. But he wasn’t the only one to blame. Two other train staff could have stopped the train with the hand brakes but one of them Albert Mariette was preoccupied with filling out paperwork as they entered the station and he failed to notice in time that train was going faster than it should be. Just as he applied the brake the train smashed through the buffer stop.

Incredibly no one on the train was killed and there were only five injuries, three of those were the crew. Tragically though, Marie-Augustine Aguilard, the wife of a news vendor on the street below was killed when she was struck by falling masonry. She had been watching the newsstand while her husband went to get the evening papers. The train company paid for her funeral and provided a pension for her children.
Guillaume-Marie Pellerin and Albert Mariette were both prosecuted for negligence and found guilty for driving the train too fast and Mariette for not applying the brake in time. There were fined 50 and 25 francs respectively.

Roger Viollet and Lévy et fils both took pictures of the crash though Viollet took a number of photos from different angles. The image now long since out of copyright is often used by poster companies to show images where something failed or went wrong.







roger viollet la gare montparnasse Gare Montparnasse, Train Station, Paris, France Gare Montparnasse, Train Station, Paris, France

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Elvis meets Nixon

Behind the camera: Oliver F. Atkins
Where: The Whitehouse’s Oval Office in Washington DC, America
Photo Summary: Elvis shaking Nixon’s hand in front of the Oval office’s military service flags
Picture Taken: 12:30 Meeting that lasted 30min on December 21, 1970
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee, Oliver F. Atkins

Nowadays meeting between cultural icons and political leaders is an everyday occurrence with Bono getting access to the UN seemingly whenever he wants. In the ’70s suggesting that Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll, and Richard Nixon, the American President could have a get together would have been met with disbelief. Yet on December 21, 1970 it happened and White House photographer, Oliver (Ollie) Atkins, captured the whole event in Black and White glory. The meeting was top secret at the time but almost a year later, on Jan. 27, 1972, the Washington Post broke the story. Soon the photo was released and it quickly became and still is one of the most requested photos from the national archives.

The Meeting


Official summary of the meeting


On the morning of December 21, 1970, a limo pulled up to the White House and one of Elvis’s bodyguards handed over a letter asking for a meeting with President Nixon. The five-page letter was written on American Airlines stationery and requested a meeting with the president to talk about Elvis obtaining the credentials of a federal agent in the war on drugs. Secret Service agents alerted Egil (Bud) Krogh, Nixon’s then-deputy assistant for domestic affairs, who was able to talk to the right people to get a meeting with the President. The time was set for 12:30 and at 11:45 Elvis was at the White House northwest gate. Krogh met Elvis and his two bodyguards, Sonny West and Jerry Schilling, and escorted them to the Oval Office reception area. Bud remembers being a little shocked when Elvis showed up wearing his rock star gear and not the usual business suits that the “normal” visiting world leaders wore. He was still impressed, though:

… in his own rock star way, he was resplendent. He was wearing tight-fitting dark velvet pants, a white silky shirt with very high collars and open to below his chest, a dark purple velvet cape, a gold medallion, and heavy silver-plated amber-tinted designer sunglasses with “EP” built into the nose bridge. Around his waist was a belt with a huge four-inch by six-inch gold belt buckle with a complex design I couldn’t make out without embarrassing myself. . . This was a time in sartorial history when gold chains festooned the necks of many of the more style-conscious men in our society. — Bud Krogh


The national archives have a travelling exhibit of the Elvis and Nixon meeting and some of the items they display are Elvis and Nixon’s clothes. In addition to the huge gold plated belt buckle, they have Elvis’s black velvet overcoat and black leather boots. For Nixon, they have the gray woollen suit, tie, and the size 11½ black shoes.

This was one of many pictures taken by Oliver Atkins, for more pictures go to the photo gallery of the meeting. Elvis had actually requested the meeting because, ironically, he was concerned about America’s drug problem:

Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House - Dec 21 1970

Nixon and Elvis colorized by the talented Marina Amaral ( @marinamaral2 )

I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good … The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do NOT consider me as their enemy or as they call it The Establishment. I call it America and I love it. Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help The Country out. I have no concern or Motives other than helping the country out.
So I wish not to be given a title or an appointed position. I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large and I will help out by doing it my way through my communications with people of all ages. — Elvis’s Letter to the President

In less than seven years Elvis would die at the age of 42 from prescription drug abuse and heart disease (although he never officially sought any sort of drug addiction help) As shown in his letter, Elvis was trying to gain an official title and badge. While he usually carried himself with the confidence that the KING of rock roll would Krogh remembers that even Elvis was awed by being in the Oval Office, “I think he was just awed by where he found himself. I ended up having to help him walk across over to the president’s desk.
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Nixon is admiring the cufflinks given to Elvis by Vice-President, Spiro Agnew.


Elvis brought a number of things to the meeting including other badges and credentials from other drug agencies, some pictures of his daughter and a present for Mr. Nixon, a World War II-era Colt 45. (The gun is now on display at the Richard Nixon Library) Nixon politely heard out Elvis’s case and did end up giving him the badge he asked for.
In a summary of the meeting created by Krogh for the President, he noticed that Elvis seemed quite emotional about being on Nixon’s side. He also expressed his concern about how the Beatles were a bad influence on the country. In the meeting summary, Krogh wrote that Elvis said that the Beatles came “to this country, made their money, and then returned to England where they promoted an anti-American theme. The President nodded in agreement and expressed some surprise.”

As the 30min was about to wrap up Elvis in a spontaneous moment gave Nixon a hug and told him how much he supported him. Just before he was about to leave Elvis asked if it would be OK if Nixon could meet his bodyguards, which Nixon agree to do.

Nixon meeting Elvis's bodyguards

Nixon meeting Elvis's bodyguards, Sonny West on the left and Jerry Schilling on the right


Years later Krogh would look back and recall that Elvis had probably just wanted the badge to complete his collection, “Oh man, we were set up! But it was fun, said Krogh. “He said all the right words about trying to do the right thing and I took him at his word, but I think he clearly wanted to get a badge and he knew the only way he was going to get it.

The photographer, Oliver F. (Ollie) Atkins, would later die of cancer, in Washington, Virginia, January 24, 1977.

The Flags Behind the King and President

In the background, you can see the Oval office’s military service flags from each division of the Armed Forces. From left to right are the US Indoor/Parade versions of the Army, Marines, Navy, AirForce, and US Coast Guard. Below are the flags as they appear stretched out, note that the oval office flags are the indoor parade versions and as such have gold tassels surrounding them.

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James Dean in Times Square


Behind the camera: Dennis Stock
Where: Walking the streets of Times Square, New York
Photo Summary: James Dean walking in the rain in Times Square New York
Picture Taken: February 1955

James Dean’s fate as an iconic movie star would be guaranteed after this photo was published in a 1955 LIFE magazine issue. Only a few months later the star would die in a car crash out west. His image as a rebellious angst-ridden star would be forever sealed by his death.

Taking the picture

The photographer, Dennis Stock, had met James Dean in New York where the two talked and agreed to work together. Stock was at first hesitant about the shoot. But after Jimmy, Dennis always insisted on calling him James Dean Jimmy, invited him to a sneak premiere to Dean’s film, East of Eden, Stock was sold on the collaboration. In an interview to PBS remembers,

“As was customary in my business, I would solicit an assignment guarantee to cover expenses. The obvious magazine to approach was Life. If I was assigned to the Life editors, we could set up a schedule for visiting Indiana and New York. We further agreed that I would have the first exclusive rights to the picture story on Jimmy.”

Stock also recalled that Dean, perhaps pushing his star power too far, made some conditions on the photo shoot. He wanted a cover guarantee and an agreement that his friend to do the accompanying write-up. Stock recalls,

It was an unusual and highly egocentric gesture. I said I’d pass the request on to the editors. It was a foolhardy demand, which I never conveyed to the magazine, gambling on our growing friendship to keep the assignment afloat. I told Jimmy the editor’s answer was no. For days he acted like a spoiled kid, and then finally came around, making it possible for us to leave for Fairmount the first week in February, 1955.

They went to Fairmount to cover his small town Midwest childhood then went to New York to capture his budding movie stardom. In Fairmount they shot a number of interesting shots including one with a large hog. While Dean was agreeable in his hometown but in New York Dennis found the movie star to be grumpy and difficult to work with. Apparently, the night before the Times Square shot Dean’s insomnia had hit and the idea to take pictures in the cold wet and miserable weather took some convincing by the photographer. The photo essay titled, Moody new star, was published in the March 7, 1955, issue of LIFE magazine. On pg 128 this image was published with the caption:

Walking in Rain, Dean wanders anonymously down the middle of New York’s Times Square. His top-floor garret on Manhattan’s West Side is no more home to him, he says, than the farm in Indiana. But he feels that his continuing attempt to find out just where he belongs is the source of his strength as an actor.

James Dean


James Dean died at the young age of 24 on September 30, 1955 in a horrible car crash at the Junction of highways 46 and 41 in California. His image of a rebel was created in one his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause. His other two movies roles, loner Cal Trask in East of Eden, and as the surly farmer Jett Rink in Giant only supported this rebel image. Cited as an actor with great talent his death guaranteed that we would only see this side of talent. In death he was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only person to have two posthumous acting nominations.

Dennis Stock

The New York native Stock joined the navy at the young age of 16 to fight in World War II. After the war, he studied photography and in 1951 won the first prize in the Life young photographers competition. Catching the eye of famed photographer Robert Capa he was invited to become an associate member of Magnum, Stock had early assignments in Paris before he began shooting the Hollywood scene. Over the years he published a number of collections about the American jazz scene. He died on Jan. 11, 2010 from colon cancer in Sarasota, Florida. He was 81.

[magnum title=”James Dean in Times Square” link=”http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAXO31_3&IID=2K1HRG77OFVP”]

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I Want To Believe

Behind the camera: X-Files production team
Where:
Photo Summary: UFO above some trees
Picture Taken:
Feeding off a popular cultural belief in the paranormal, extraterrestrial life and government cover-ups the TV show The X-Files exploded onto the television scene when it aired in 1993. Chris Carter the series creator said he was inspired to create the show after reading a survey suggesting that 3.7 million Americans believe they had been abducted. The shows main characters Skully and Mulder became superstars and the show developed one of the largest cult following in TV history (Only being beaten by the Star Trek franchise). The show’s slogans (“The Truth Is Out There,” “Trust No One,” “Deny Everything,” “I Want to Believe”) became pop culture catchphrases. The “I Want to Believe” slogan came from a poster that hung on Mulder’s wall making the poster a Famous Picture as it came to represent believers of extraterrestrial life.

The FIGU Community picture that some claim the original picture was based on.

Birth of the Poster

The X-Files production team has been silent on the origins of the “original” poster. However, a group calling themselves the FIGU Community have claimed that the picture is based on an actual UFO taken by their UFO researchers. As proof, they offer some photos supposedly from a series that some claim the original was taken from (Larger Pictures are found on the bottom right of the site). They offer the pictures in (BMP) form so that users can download make the picture their background image.

In the actual X-Files plot, the poster is destroyed by a fire in Mulder’s office in the last episode of Season 5.

Screenshot from season 1 showing the original poster.

In the middle of Season 6 in episode “Alpha”, Mulder meets a kindred spirit: Karin Berquist, a dog whisperer who has the same poster. She dies as a result of their investigation, but after his return back to Washington, Mulder receives a package, a poster tube, of her poster. In 2008 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History received a collection of objects including one of the set’s I want to believe posters for their exhibit.

X-Files

Created by Chris Carter the show first aired on FOX on September 10, 1993, and ended after a nine-year run on May 19, 2002.

To allow for easier merchandising the poster in Mulder’s basement office was changed to this UFO shot.

The X-Files was one of the network’s first major hits. In the series, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson play two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who are tasked with investigating the so-called “X-Files.” These cases, marginalized by the FBI, often involve paranormal phenomena. Mulder plays the role of the “believer,” having faith in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully plays the skeptic, initially assigned by her departmental superiors to debunk Mulder’s unconventional work and contain its profound implications. As the show progressed both Mulder and Scully became embroiled in the same larger conflicts (termed “the mythology” or “mytharc” by the show’s creators) and developed a close and ambiguous friendship — which some fans, known as “shippers,” saw as more than platonic. The X-Files also featured many “monster of the week” episodes ranging in tone from horror to comedy, in which Mulder and Scully investigated unique, stand-alone cases that did not usually have long-term implications.

The show’s popularity peaked in the mid-to-late ’90s, even inspiring a hit movie in 1998. But in the last two seasons, Anderson became the star as Duchovny appeared rarely, and new central characters were introduced: FBI Agents John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish). At the time of its final episode, The X-Files was the longest running sci-fi show in American television history, a title since lost to Stargate SG-1.

Is the poster real?

The replacement poster shown in a screenshot taken from season 7

This version of the poster is the poster that was shown in the first season of the show hanging on the wall of Mulder’s basement FBI X-Files office. The poster was an original image created by the X-files production team and couldn’t be mass produced. To rectify this problem the X-Files merchandising team changed the poster by adding the “I want to believe” text to an existing UFO image. Other companies were quick to cash in on the confusion created their own versions so that now several “I want to believe” posters exist.

Click below pictures for more information


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Kissing Couple

Behind the camera: Robert Doisneau
Where: Streets of Paris outside the Hotel de Ville
Photo Summary: Françoise Bornet and then boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posing for a kiss
Picture Taken: 1950

Titled “Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville,” or “Kiss at City Hall.” Robert Doisneau’s (pronounced ro-bear dwa-no.) picture has itself come to symbolize spontaneous acts of love and cement that Paris is the city of romance. In late 2000 Paris Match magazine called on young couples to recreate the kiss in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the picture. Doisneau took the snapshot of lust, in 1950, as part of a series on young love in Paris, for LIFE magazine. Over the years millions of copies of the image were sold as posters. One of the women who showed up for the reenactment said she has never really understood why Paris is seen as more romantic than other European cities. “But we must continue to perpetuate the image”

Rebirth

He didn’t want to shatter their dream
Why Robert Doisneau didn’t admit using models

After the picture appeared in the LIFE magazine series it lay forgotten for 31 years until a publisher called Doisneau asking to make a poster of the “Kiss at City Hall” shot. The poster was a huge hit, and soon posters and postcards were sold all over the world. The image brought Doisneau fame but it also brought a lot of headaches too. Since the success of the poster, many couples have come forward claiming to be the couple in the picture. Doisneau was not threatened by the claims, as he knew he had used models to pose for the kiss. In a 1992 interview, Doisneau said: “I would have never dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate.”

Still, he greeted the claims with gentleness. His daughter Annette Doisneau, who worked as an assistant for Robert, remembers meeting one of the couples with her father. Even though he knew that their claim was false, “He said nothing,” she said. “I asked him why he hadn’t told them the truth. He said he didn’t want to shatter their dream.” Not denying the claims would cost Robert dearly. In 1993 Denise and Jean-Louis Lavergne took him to court claiming that they were the couple in the picture and demanding compensation for taking the picture without their knowledge.

Models come forward

The photo was posed. But the kiss was real
Ms Bornet the women in the shot

The lawsuit forced Robert to admit that the shot wasn’t spontaneous, he had indeed used models for the picture. With this admission, the lawsuit was dismissed. However his legal trouble didn’t end as the model that he used, Françoise Bornet then came forward and sued for a portion of the poster sales. This case too was thrown out when Robert provided evidence that she had been paid for posing in 1950. Françoise Bornet and then-boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posed for the picture after Robert had seen them kissing earlier in a café. Mrs. Bornet a former actress, now in her 70’s has revealed that her and Jacques’ relationship only lasted around 9 months. Even though they are forever linked in the picture as one of the most romantic couples they didn’t stay in touch. “I now think of it as a picture that should never really have existed,” Ms. Bornet said. She added maybe with regret: “The photo was posed. But the kiss was real.”

In 2005 she sold the original print, which bears the photographer’s authentic signature and stamp, that Robert Doisneau had sent her a few days after taking the shot. At the Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur auction, an unidentified Swiss collector paid 155,000 euros, more than 10 times what it was expected to fetch. A surprised Mrs. Bornet told the French media that she would use the proceeds to set up a film production company with her husband.
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Robert Doisneau


Robert Doisneau became one of Frances most prolific and popular photographers. He is known for his everyday shots of life in France’s cafés and streets. He once said that “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” Which is ironic considering that his most famous picture was staged. Critic’s have tried to marginalize his artistic reputation as a “cheerful chappie” who marched around happily taking pictures of whoever passed him by. However, this image has always annoyed those close to him. His daughter, Francine Doisneau, “Nothing could be further from the truth, … If you look closely at his work, you’ll see that the lightness, the carefree touch he strives for, aims to mask his own melancholy.” Doisneau own life was indeed anything but cheerful. Born in Gentilly in the Val-de-Marne, France 1912. He watched his father march off to World War I and then his mother died when he was seven. Raised by an aunt and then stepmother who never showed him the love that his mother did, he eventually trained as an engraver at the Ecole Estienne in Chantilly. However, when he graduated he found that his training was out of date and useless. While working at a pharmaceutical firm he learned photography in the advertising department. He first started taking pictures as a hobbyist but soon he turned pro selling his first photo-story to the Excelsior newspaper in 1932 at the age of 20.

When World War II came around, he was first a member of the French Army and then the Resistance using his skills as an engraver to forge passports and identification papers. After the war, he did some freelance work for a number of international magazines including Life, and Vogue. Through Vogue, he became well known in the high-society fashion circles but Robert Doisneau didn’t go down in the books for his fashion photography but his “street photography”. Some of his favorite pictures were of street urchins and those whom he called “Urban Gallantry” (prostitutes). He used to wander the streets at night trying to capture those on the edge of French society. One of his favorite pictures, taken in 1935, is a near self-portrait of Doisneau as a street kid. A short film about his version of Paris, Le Paris de Robert Doisneau, was made in 1973. Doisneau won the Prix Kodak in 1947, the Prix Niepce in 1956 and was a consultant to Expo ’67, Canada. He died on April Fools’ Day 1994.

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