Home / Photographers / Sarony Studio / Photographers for Ziegfeld #1: Sarony Studio - Ernest M. Burrow_david [5]

© David S. Shields

Photographers for Ziegfeld #1: Sarony Studio - Ernest M. Burrow_david  Jun 9, '09 7:25 AM
by david for group historicalziegfeldgroup #078

Florenz Ziegfeld was obsessed with photography as a medium of publicity and hired the most reputable and artistic camera professionals in the United States to lens his performers and productions. While Alfred Cheney Johnston may have been Ziegfeld's favorite photographer from 1917 to 1931, he regularly hired others to shoot the Follies and his other productions.

Sarony Studio bore one of the resonant names on Broadway, its founder, Napoleon Sarony, having been the greatest theatrical photographer of the 19th century. Shortly before his death in 1896, Napoleon Sarony sold the studio to the Burrow family with the stipulation that his son, Otto, be kept on as a salaried employee. Otto, before his death in 1903, complicated matters by selling his name to the photographic titan Col. Theodore Marceau, who owned a chain of studios spanning the country.

For much of the early 20th century two Sarony studios vied for trade: Sarony Studio & Otto Sarony Studio. The former was administered by the talented camera man Ernest M. Burrow, who photographed for Ziegfeld from 1908 to 1919. Never named, Burrow's work always appeared under the Sarony Studio signature. He favored half length and bust portraits, although he would also do full figure with props. His signature was an even diffused lighting, and an avoidance of deep shadow.

Over the years, Burrow hired a number of camera assistants. A. C. Johnston apparently worked for him from 1914 to 1917 and did portraits of Billie Burke and various Follies performers during the period. This accounts for Johnston's remark late in life that he had shot the Follies for Ziegfeld well before the 1917 date when he published his first independently credited work.

The portraits below show Burrow's photographic work, beginning with an 1908 portrait of Billie Burke, an early half-length of Olive Thomas dressed in men's clothing, two of a five shot series of Ina Claire's impersonations in the 1916 Follies, and Jean Barrett's publicity photo for the 1915 Follies. David S. Shields


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