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The Allen Sisters:

Pictorial Photographers 1885-1920
by Suzanne L. Flynt

Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association  Distributed by University Press of New England, Hanover New Hampshire 03755.

Reviewed by Carole Glauber, copyright 2002.

Carole Glauber is a photographer, photo-historian, lecturer, and author.

The Allen Sisters: Pictorial Photographers 1885-1920 presents a revival of photographs by Frances and Mary Allen whose lives straddled the turn of the 19th century and the heyday of Pictorial photography. Between 1896 and 1916, visitors flocked to the quaint village of Deerfield, Massachusetts where the Arts and Crafts movement flourished as did Frances and Mary’s photographic work. In the same genre as Myra Albert Wiggins, the Allen sisters employed a routine Pictorialist approach to their work. We can count on seeing soft-focus images of mothers with children, workers in fields, sheep out to pasture, children dancing in a circle on a forest edge, reflections of trees in ponds, and females in Dutch attire. The public loved this imagery and its popularity provided professional opportunities for talented and ambitious photographers.

Frances and Mary Allen took advantage of the system utilized by other photographers: the salon competitions, the keen interest in reproducing photographs in magazines, potential corporate support from Kodak, and the immense popularity of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Allen sisters were in the right place at the right time. Deerfield became a center of this movement, attracting tourists and curiosity seekers lured by reminders of bygone days. Frances and Mary’s charming family home housed their studio/darkroom where they created photographs befitting this trend with great success.

Frances was born August 10, 1854 and Mary, May 14, 1858. They seemed to have a happy childhood filled with music lessons, family picnics, dances, sugaring parties, and sleigh rides. Both completed boarding school and then teacher training at the State Normal School. Frances spent 1876 to 1886 teaching, but Mary suffered from poor health, curtailing her teaching career. Their hearing deteriorated between 1883 and 1891, cutting short both their careers in education, but likely strengthening their dependence on each other and fostering their second career in photography.

Like a surprising number of women during this period, they managed to support themselves with the new business of photography. Beginning with portraits of their students, they soon received commissions for buildings, landscapes, and street scenes of picturesque New England towns. They participated in the rise of amateur photography competitions but their appearance in the Washington [DC] Salon and Art Photographic Competition sponsored by the Camera Club of the Capital Bicycle Club in 1896 caught the attention of well known photographer and writer, Frances Benjamin Johnston whose friendship provided a boost to their career. She included their work in her Paris exhibit of American women photographers and in a Ladies Home Journal article, “The Foremost Women Photographers in America.”

Illustrating books and periodicals brought their work to a broader audience. For example, their photographs appeared on covers of Good Housekeeping and The Craftsman, as well as inside Country Life in America, The Delineator, and numerous photography journals. Mary also became a portraitist, and a steady influx of customers added to their income.

Despite their deafness, the sisters traveled to England, Scotland, and Wales in 1908 and to California in 1916.
World War I made their professional lives difficult when photographic supplies became scarce. In 1930, Frances lost her eyesight and learned to communicate by using an “alphabet glove.” Still, they carried on despite a devastating flood invading their house and general declining health. As interest in Pictorialism and the Arts and Craft movement waned, so did national interest in Frances and Mary. The Allen sisters were relegated to obscurity along with similar photographers from that era. Frances and Mary died within four days of each other in 1941 at ages 86 and 82.

The Allen Sisters is a thoughtful, well-designed book presenting their lives and work in a respectful manner. It is a welcome addition to the growing number of publications dedicated to women photographers. Following a well-researched essay by Suzanne Flynt, are 100 tritone plates. Some of the reproductions are modern prints from glass negatives, but most are from original platinum prints. A foreward by Naomi Rosenblum positions the Allen sisters within the history of photography and women photographers in general. Flynt does bring up issues that require further inquiry. For example, the concept of female collaboration in photography is relevant to the Allen sisters’ story, as is Flynt’s statement, “Like many Deerfield women active in the Arts and Crafts movement, they remained single.” Both are tantalizing (was there a culture of women artists remaining single?), yet remain unexplored here. However, Frances and Mary Allen’s combination of hard work, talent, and a business sensibility have survived the test of time and Suzanne Flynt has done a fine job of presenting them today.

The Allen Sisters accompanies exhibits at Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 2002 and Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware in 2003.

Hardcover: 208 pages; Dimensions (in inches): 0.94 x 11.60 x 9.56
Publisher: Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Assn;
ISBN: 1882374045; (May 2002)

Foreward by Naomi Rosenblum

Reviewed by Carole Glauber, copyright 2002.

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A Complete Visual Guide for Creating SX-70,
Transfer, and Digital Prints
by Kathleen T. Carr

Manipulating the properties of Polaroid film into fantastic and mysterious images has become a favorite in the recent resurgence of alternative photographic processes, and Kathleen T. Carr is a master at it. Her new book, Polaroid Manipulations: A Complete Visual Guide for Creating SX-70, Transfer, and Digital Prints (September 2002, Amphoto Books) is the first book that thoroughly explains a wide variety of approaches to SX-70 manipulation with illustrated, step-by-step procedures and a stunning collection of works by over 30 Polaroid artists and photographers.

This is a companion volume to Carr’s successful Polaroid Transfers: A Complete Visual Guide to Creating Image and Emulsion Transfers now the definitive guide to transferring these images onto alternative surfaces and enhancing them by hand coloring and other means. Polaroid Manipulations expands on these themes with more creative transfer techniques, and introduces the additional possibilities available by manipulating Polaroid SX-70 film. Carr also responds to the explosion of interest in digital imaging by including specific information for scanning, Photoshop enhancements, enlarging, and various options for printing the images digitally.

Polaroid Manipulations is a mother lode of new ideas for photographers and artists interested in expanding their visual vocabulary and extending the possibilities in many of the media they already work with. The gallery section of the book is instructive both for the range and caliber of work being done in this medium and for the explanations of how each artist achieves their own effects.

“Polaroid manipulations are an easy and uncomplicated way for professionals to expand their options,” says Carr, “because they are relevant to both abstract and representational forms, and the range ofmedia extend from handcoloring to sculpture, collage, book arts and beyond.”

Author Bio: Kathleen Thormod Carr, BFA, Photography, is a fine art photographer, author and teacher whose award winning work has been widely exhibited and collected. As a Creative Uses Consultant for Polaroid, Carr has been teaching workshops in these processes since 1993. Her photographs have been published in National Geographic Traveler, Outdoor Photographer, Islands, Decor, and Esquire. Carr’s first book, To Honor the Earth (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), was published internationally. She is represented by the Alinder Gallery in Gualala, California, and the Edward Carter Gallery in Lewes, Delaware.

Note: Women In Photography International is proud to announce that eight images by WIPI Director of Exhibitions Joanne Warfield are featured in Kathleen's book.]

Kathleen is also the author of the very successful Polaroid Transfers: A Complete Visual Guide to Creating Image and Emulsion Transfers (Amphoto Books, 1997), which features her own work along with a selection of pieces from over 20 international transfer artists and photographers.

Polaroid Manipulations: A Complete Visual Guide for Creating SX-70, Transfer, and Digital Prints
208 pages, 8-1/2 x 11, 335 color photographs.
Amphoto Books, July 2002.
ISBN 0-8174-5555-8.
Photographs are available for use and the artist is available for interviews

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Kathleen T. Carr
(707) 829-5649 voice
(707) 824-8174 fax
Please visit our June Quarterly Professional Gallery and enjoy the exceptional photographic talent of Kathleen T. Carr

Kathleen T. Carr is a Professional Member of WIPI • See her featured GALLERY images in Archive 11.
Also read her interview in the October issue.

The Russians Emerge

Photographs by: Heidi Hollinger
Written by: Jonathan Sanders & Heidi Hollinger
Preface by Mikhail Gorbachev

Review by Nancy Clendaniel

Note: "Were it not for the great love I have for what I personally know of Russia, and it's people, I doubt if my review would have been so intense in nature. What I am discovering, as I spend more time with this very ambitious publication and read more of the text, is that Heidi shares this love. In reading, it also become obvious that her life experience in Russia is extensive, vibrant and filled with intrigue! The opportunity she has had to mingle with all classes of Russians is enviable." -Nancy Clendaniel

Given Heidi Hollinger's unique affiliations with Russia, it's obvious that she has made very specific choices as to what images she wishes to bring to the fore as representative of Russians today. Like any other artist, Heidi incorporates her own spirit, values and sense of humor into her work. So it must, of course, be acknowledged that a good part of the negative reaction I initially encountered, was specifically due to her photographic style and personal interpretation. Heidi's use of props, contrived poses, nudity and symbols of a decadent lifestyle to evoke emotion seem to degrade the very people she is wanting to lift up! Always subjective, Heidi's images seem to strip even the most elegant of her subjects of their humanity, honor and sense of belonging. Rather than sensing humor in this "lighter" side of Russia, where individualism and personal expression is finally and understandably surging, I sensed isolation, sadness and chaos.

The Russian community that I've come to know and love over the past decade are hardworking, fun-filled, family-oriented and extremely creative. But yes, they are all Christians. They share a history that is overshadowed with stories of oppression, persecution and personal pain - yet they are neither cold nor sad nor hopeless. As the newfound "freedom to worship" must surely be impacting life in the former Soviet Union, it seems a glaring omission in Heidi's chronicles.

Since receiving the book for review, I have shared it with nearly a dozen people from all walks of life - a retired Boeing design engineer, a poet, a university dean, a homemaker, a college student and a Russian pastor and his wife, along with two photographers, an espresso shop owner and a radio announcer! I must say, that I have not taken such an interest in a new book for ages!! (Being a photojournalist myself, I should think this is GOOD news to an artist and her publisher!!) The responses have been very thoughtful and it's been wonderful to see the time everyone has taken in evaluating the large book.

The most prevailing opinion is: everyone wishes the photos in the BACK of the book (ILLUSTRATED NOTES) had been selected for the FRONT! These smaller images have evoked far more reaction than any of the larger portraits that make up the bulk of the book. All who viewed the book felt that they got a much better sense of Russia today, upon examining the first and final section of the publication.

Hands down, the text by Jonathan Sanders was voted brilliant! Personally, I learned more about the history of Russian Photography from Mr. Sanders commentary than I'd ever known before!

Heidi's PREFACE NOTES are very informative and reflect her dedication to capturing the new Russian Society. Upon reading her text, everyone who viewed this book, opted for a second look! But I can't help but wonder how many will take the time to do this? There seems an elusive quality to Heidi's portraits; a quality that leaves even the most interesting of her subjects lacking in vulnerability and warmth. Often the warmth only comes through AFTER reading the text, which is always a fascinating scenario.

What you must applaud about this volume is the dedication and perseverance of the photographer! This collection reflects years of hard work, enormous photographic talent and evidence of taking considerable personal risk to effectively document all aspects of the new Russian Society.
To echo the words of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Foreword of this book:
"I believe that the creative attempt to capture the living faces of our contemporaries in artistic images deserves support and attention."

Perhaps the NEXT volume of Heidi's work will incorporate more of her documentary images, providing a comprehensive backdrop for a wider spectrum of the Russian people as they emerge.

Review by Nancy Clendaniel
WIPI Charter Member

The Russians Emerge
Photography by Heidi Hollinger
Text by Jonathan Sanders and Heidi Hollinger
Preface by Mikhail Gorbachev
Abbeville Press
175 photographs, 140 in full color
176 pages
9 1/2 x 13 3/8"
Trade Cloth
Published 2002
ISBN: 0-7892-0757-5
Stock Number: 07575
EAN 9780789207579
U.S. $50.00

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