Friday, March 07, 2008

Photo Phun! September 1959

Today's post is a continuation from yesterday. I wanted to take a closer look at the unique work of this unknown photographer. At first I thought that he was inept, but on further reflection I believe that the work is on par with the great photographers of the 20th century. Is he Henri Cartier-Bresson, with a dash of Paul Outerbridge or Alfred Eisenstaedt? And maybe a smidgen of Weegee?! You be the judge.

Consider this first photo. The castle is in the distance, mostly obscured by trees. The photographer's wife appears in the photo, overwhelmed by emptiness. Other guests face away from us, increasing our sense of alienation.


We know that there is a ride to our right with colorful flying elephants full of joyful, smiling people. But our unknown genius produced this unusual composition, and the message is clear: happiness is an illusion.


A mostly empty street beckons us on towards the looming mountain. You'll notice a common theme in which everyone else in the picture tends to face away from us. The horse hitch in the foreground is a metaphor for the imminent imprisonment of our souls, while the colorful umbrellas mock us.


A barren road lies before us heading nowhere, and vehicles sit abandoned. A series of barriers prevent us from getting to the crowded train, as the people on the benches turn away in shame.


Here we contemplate sitting on a lonely bench. However, there is the ever-present fear that the people do not look at us because we are, in effect, ghosts.


The artist was reluctant to venture into Frontierland (a land that is new and unexplored), and instead is considering the solitude of the bench. However we hesitate because the bench is in front of an impenetrable dark void representing death.



OK, enough with the "art speak"! These pictures are lovably awful. I wonder if this older couple ever brought out the projector, and watched a slide show, and actually enjoyed themselves! Sometimes you really can't tell what the photographer was aiming at, so many of his pictures are basically empty space.

Here's one last masterpiece to haunt your dreams.

22 comments:

Progressland said...

You didn't mention it, but in that last photo there are actually people facing toward the camera (though he tried to hide one behind the lamppost), which I think signals his embrace of humanity.

On the plus side, that's an interesting angle on the Castle in the first shot!

outsidetheberm said...

This is the funniest post you've ever created - and fully appreciated! We hope you have more to come from this photographer.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Haunt my dreams indeed... These are just down right freaky! I swear I can hear Rod Sterling’s voice in the background! That last picture looks like a fourth dimensional Disneyland!

mr wiggins said...

The writing on this post made me laugh out loud. The "haunt your dreams" shot is ultimazilla mongo Escher-iffic! Not to mention the constant right-tilt to the camera. More! More!

(Sheesh, poor guy's probl'y long gone to that great darkroom in the sky, and here I am snickering at his stuff.)

MORE! MORE!

Matterhorn1959 said...

Are you sure the photographere was not just loading film and these are the throw away shots, and somewhere there is a big box of slides all perfectly focused and close up? Nah, probably not. Just imagine sitting through this slide show when the photographer returned from his vacation? Here is a shot of Frontierland, and here is Ethyl in front of the Matterhorn.

Thufer said...

your commentary was just a hoot! they brought a really funny aspect to the pictures. i will be smiling all day. thank you.

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Your humor is intense Major and appreciated. But, I think all of you have missed the purpose of these photos. I know the photographer who took these pictures he owned the ACME Asphalt & Concrete Company in Anaheim. His name was Conrad "Con" Crete and his wife was Ashley "Ash" Phalt (maiden name) and these are slides he will show to future potential customers of the durability of his companies product. Serious!

Biblioadonis aka George said...

Brilliant, Major!

Thanks for bringing several smiles to my day!

Chris Jepsen said...

Viewliner kids, but I think he may be essentially right. I've looked at a gazillion photos taken by the County Roads Dept, and they look a great deal like these. I think the photographer was probably in the paving business and is at least as interested in the asphalt as the rest of the park.

Likewise, I've heard of horticulturalists who walk around the park mainly taking photos of the plants.

Whether I'm right about this or not, you have to admit that the fabric of Disneyland is fascinating on many levels. If you're interested in design and planning, the park is like a pinata that yields new rewards each time you come at it from a different angle.

Bearride - Raymond said...

Maybe the photographer was showing everybody that Disneyland wasn't as crowded as the say it was. Nah! I've taken pics like that before. Ooo, thats it for my next post :)

Caspian said...

Awesome!

Major Pepperidge said...

I actually considered that maybe the guy was genuinely interested in the cement and asphalt! You'll notice that almost all of his photos are 2/3 pavement, even the Chalet photo from yesterday.

But I suspect that he was just not a very skilled photographer, to be honest.

Tim said...

I agree with the Major...

I'm guessing that this *amazing* photographer is probably a child - maybe 5 or 6 years old - spending a phun-philled photo day at Disneyland with Grandma!

Anonymous said...

The common visual theme? Cement. I'm laying odds the guy was a cement contractor or a road construction engineer, and he just couldn't get past the wonder of Disney's magic ways with...pavement.

eddy from canada said...

Nicely twisted. You've turned something that could have been dull and boring for your viewers... into a feel-good experience! See how you did that?

Merlinsguy said...

Fabulous. Thanks for that.

Scott Schrantz said...

All I could think when I was looking at the pictures was, "I wish Disneyland was that empty when I go there."

What you call an overwhelming sense of alienation I call no waiting on Space Mountain.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that, or he wears a large brimmed hat and that's how the world looks to him. I can't explain the last one. Maybe he took off his hat.

DZ

Just so you know, even we lurkers enjoy the old photos. Thanks!

MainstreetMom said...

Great post! You may be jesting but the writing is fabulous!

Stub Winged Bilge Rat said...

I couldn't figure out what you all were talking about, and then I remembered that not everyone can see Harvey even though he is a 6'3" rabbit. Of course he couldn't take any pictures of Elwood at the park...big furry paws you know.

Connie Moreno said...

I thought I had gone through ALL of your posts so how did I miss this gem?? Your commentary, as usual, is hysterical - which can be a bad thing when read at 4 in the morning!

Monkey Cage Kurt said...


PURE GENIUS!!! This is one of, if not thee greatest testament of your creative brilliance. Stuff like this is what keeps me fixed on my strait and narrow journey along this blog. I’ve never had so much fun looking at the worst photos in the world!
HIGH PRAISE!!!