Gallery of Fine Art Photography - Atlanta GA

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Berenice Abbott – Inventor

House of Photography

In addition to her artistic accomplishments, Berenice Abbott invented photographic equipment and held four patents on her inventions. In 1947, she and several business associates established The House of Photography, which was a commercial venture designed to bring her inventions to market.READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

Diagram from patent for candid camera, 1958

Diagram from patent for candid camera, 1958

Abbott’s biographer Hank O’Neal discusses some of her major inventions in his book, Bernice Abbott American Photographer. These devises include a distortion easel, an autopole, a cloth vest with many pockets, a candid camera and a precursor to the monopod. The House of Photography was a financial failure, and Abbott eventually lost her backers, though the company existed on paper for many years after it ceased to function.
O’Neal remembers looking through Abbott’s attic in Monson, Maine, where she lived at the end of her life, and finding models for inventions, stock certificates and other corporate documents, as well as the corporate seal. Though the business was a bust, O’Neal says her journals and notebooks from that time frame reveal a river of ideas and questions. Interestingly, Abbott wrote registered letters to herself as a way of documenting and dating her most evolved ideas.

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Photo Credits: Tom Murphy - Moose Feeding along Beaverdam Creek (Color Pigment Print)

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Tom Murphy - Bison Cow and Calf Playing (Color Pigment Print)

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What was the House of Photography? Berenice Abbott created this commercial venture to bring her many ideas and inventions to market. But was it a success?

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