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© David S. Shields

Photographers for Ziegfeld #13: Strauss-Peyton_david    Jul 9, '09 9:24 AM
by david for group historicalziegfeldgroup #126

From 1913 onward, two of the most visually adventurous photographers in the United States operated in Kansas City: Orval Hixon of the Hixon-Connelly partnership and Homer Peyton of the Strauss-Peyton partnership. Both chose to intervene dramatically into the pictorial field of photographs, painting in backgrounds, scraping abstract patterns into the emulsion, dodging the prints to create unusual tonal effects. Kansas City stood as the crossing node of two major theatrical circuits, so New York stars would avail themselves of the talents of these photographers when playing in the city.

Both studios attracted the attention of the editors of national magazines, but Strauss-Peyton became a conspicuous presence when talented photographer and retoucher Homer Peyton opened a summer studio New York City in order to service the demand for his services at the center of the performing arts. Because Ziegfeld's favorite photographer, Alfred Cheney Johnston, also painted backgrounds onto certain of his negatives, Ziegfeld only used Peyton during those periods when ACJ was away from New York--during the 1921-22 ventures to Hollywood, and during a vacation in 1928.

The Peyton portrait of Marilyn Miller in Sally dates from the first of these absences. Peyton was not a one trick pony, and could pose and shoot atmospheric straight images as well as manipulated pictures. The photograph of Anastasia Reilly shows Peyton a master of the drape shot, that genre that Johnston popularized among performing arts photographers.

The Strauss-Peyton partnership dissolved in 1928. David S. Shields

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  • historicalzg - 1Reply
    ohikkoshi wrote on Sep 23, '09
    Thank you for such a wonderful gift, David!
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