A group of semi-anonymous photographers, shooting 4×5 chromes for the Office of War Information, made some of the most incredible portraits of ordinary Americans that I’ve ever seen. One in particular, named Alfred Palmer, deserves his own mini-retrospective. Click for full-size images; they have to be seen big to be appreciated.
Most are images of men and women at work on the war effort—Rosie the Riveter gals, men operating heavy machinery, servicemen and -women. There are (according to the Library of Congress, which has the collection) 164,000 in black-and-white and 1,600 in color.
Is that her hipster Williamsburg boyfriend?
Quite a few of them were shot with some kind of foreground illumination, meaning that the backgrounds fall into nearly solid black, giving these the quality of dramatic set-pieces, but as far as I know they’re all documentary.
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