Camera Club Girls and the Origins of Modern Erotic Photography
By Jim Linderman
They may look tame today, even odd, but the photographs which came from the original “Camera Club Sessions” in New York City during the early 1950s not only mark the beginning of modern day erotic photography, from them emerged an unlikely fashion icon and star, Bettie Page.
Nude photography in the United States was taboo and virtual
ly unknown in the 1950s. Of course, there are some exceptions. The six photo “strip sets” sold in the back of men’s magazines and from under the counter in Times Square, “French” postcards and the occasional “art” photograph. But the first real erotic photography which led to the smut explosion of the 1970s and what we consider nude photography today started in the 1950s with a small, informal group of shutterbugs who have come to be known as the camera clubs.
Certainly the most eccentric of the camera club participants was Rudolph Rossi, and we know this only by the work he left behind. Discovered fifty years after they were taken, some 150 photographs were found, the majority being 8″ x 10″ and remarkably, each meticulously hand-painted by the artist.
Rossi took the photographs using black and white film and developed them himself. Few amateur camera hobbyists had the technology to develop color film in the 1950s when these were taken, so in isolation Rossi created his own erotic world of color.
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Jim Linderman's first book "Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950" was published by Dust-to-Digital and nominated for a Grammy in the Best Historical Release category. MAKE SURE TO VIEW ALL TEN CURRENT BOOKS BELOW!
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