Working Methods: The Howard D. Beach Photography Studio of Gelatin Dry Plate Negatives

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Wiedemer, Noelle
In spring 2011, the Buffalo History Museum received a donation of over 30,000 gelatin dry plate negatives from the Howard D. Beach Photography Studio, which operated in Buffalo, New York in various manifestations from 1896 to 1954. This research examines the physical and chemical properties of these negatives and compares Beach's photographic working methods to industry standards. More specifically, it asks: what brands of dry plates did Beach use for his portraits; do they have different characteristics; why may he have preferred one brand over another; and how did it affect his working methods? This project: surveyed manufacturers' original boxes served to identify the numerous companies in competition in an increasingly growing market; analyzed whether or not plates from different manufacturers can be distinguished from each other; and used Beach's actual journals to hypothesize why Beach may have preferred one particular manufacturer's brand over another.