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Postcard Photography

postcards picture photographer magazine

Postcard photography often celebrates the unique aspects of tourist destinations; for some, postcards have become collectible. Postcards accentuate the positive attributes of locations. The picture postcard debuted in 1870, when a French stationer published a postcard to commemorate the visit of a popular military regiment to his city. Brisk sales inspired entrepreneurs in Germany and Austria to put out picture postcards on a commercial basis. By the 1880s, such specialty items as French postcards showing attractive women in suggestive outfits and alluring poses sold well and relatively openly in many countries, including the United States.

By October 1908, when The Photo Miniature devoted an entire issue to photographic postcards, Germany continued to be the center of postcard manufacturing. Germans reportedly had sent 1.5 million postcards in 1907. Continental Europe led the rest of the world in this “friendly communication among nations,” as the magazine called it. The picture-postcard industry also flourished in Great Britain and the United States, where subject matter included, according to the magazine, “the whole range of human interests appropriate for all seasons and places with uses as widely varied as are human needs.”

At that time, the magazine called postcard photography “a new field of pleasure and profit for the photographer.” Even those with limited photographic facilities were encouraged to take photographs of special or local interest that commercial postcard makers might miss or overlook.

Today, postcard photography continues to be an area of opportunity for the enterprising photographer. Tourist areas that draw large crowds offer the best chance of selling the thousands of postcards necessary for a profitable line of picture postcards. Businesses and organizations that use postcards to promote their products and services may hire a photographer to take an attention-getting photograph or to shepherd a chosen photograph through the production process that turns a picture into a postcard.

Just about any entity that needs to present its best side to the public could become a postcard photography customer—from political parties and individual campaigns to restaurants, hotels, motels, resorts, camps, amusement parks, art galleries, museums, athletic facilities, hospitals, universities, and sport teams and the complexes where they play.

Ideally, the client pays for the photographer’s time plus expenses to make the picture postcard. Sometimes, the client provides the photograph to be used. By handling the postcard order, the photographer may qualify for a commission from the postcard manufacturer.

Today many art galleries announce the opening of shows using postcards, and although traditional printers can make postcards online, printers such as Modern Postcard offer some of the world’s best quality, service, and prices for the discriminating photographer.

Postwar Stars, Genres, and Production Trends - Stars and the Star System, CASE STUDY:THE REGENERATION OF ABBOTT AND COSTELLO [next] [back] Portrait Photography

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