The George Grantham Bain Collection
Taking photos is a hobby that seems to involve a lot of people nowadays. Instagram is full of talented photographers who, thanks to their creativity, passion and artistic taste manage to turn their spare time’s favourite activity into a successful business. It may be that taking pictures has become simpler than ever, with digital technology making it possible virtually for everyone, but there’s a lot of rising completion in the field of photography with tons of good shutterbugs out there! Today, amateurs with a digital camera have more and more chances to become a published photographer more than ever.
But how was it to work for the daily news scene a hundred years ago? Photographer George Grantham Bain, also known as "the father of foreign photographic news", own a place among legends of the camera between 1900s and 1930s. Together with his fellow lensmen Ozzie Sweet, Charles Conlon , George Burke, Carl Horner, Louis Van Oeyen and Paul Thompson, he left a legacy of images that used interpret and communicate an event through pictures. He was the ace of aces in photojournalism. True pioneer of his times, he immortalized a wide range of subjects: hard news stories and tragedies as well as political newsmakers, celebrities, sports and general human interest. Delivering thousands of his captured scenes to newspapers was his bread and butter.
Formerly affiliated with the United Press, he founded his New York photo agency in 1898. The Bain News Service was one of America's earliest news picture agencies specialized in New York City news and covered, to a lesser degree, events in the eastern United States. It distributed its own pictures, as well as those purchased from other commercial agencies, to about one hundred newspapers across the US. It basically supplied photography to media outlets, both nationally and internationally.
During the years of its activity, the Bain News Service pictures documented local sports events, theater, celebrities, crime, strikes, disasters, political activities including the woman suffrage campaign, conventions and public celebrations. It provided extensive news coverage, recorded by the approximately 40,000 glass plate negatives and 50,000 photographic prints. The George Grantham Bain Collection dates from the 1900s to the mid-1920s, but scattered images can be found as early as the 1860s and as late as the 1930s.
In 1948 the Library of Congress purchased the photographic files and today it offers Bain’s historical photograph collections through Flickr for everyone to see. Thanks to the Library of Congress for sharing some of The George Grantham Bain Collection’s most popular images!