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A new alternative to paint and canvas: The beginning of artistic photography (1909)

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1909 Artistic photography

Development of artistic photography

by Kathryn Rucker

That true artistic expression may be rendered by means of the camera is verified and demonstrated by several exponents of secession photography in Los Angeles.

Foremost among these is Hana Robison, studio 801, YWCA building, a woman with wonderful appreciation of the possibilities of her craft; with a keen insight into human nature which enables her to bring out the best, to draw forth the very soul of her sitters and portray their most subtle qualities, even as the painter with his brush might achieve.

Theatre women c1909 (1)

She inspires them, as it were, for the moment, that she may register that expression of their highest and noblest self. She delights in that dim and illusive effect which increases the charm of that mysterious soul-quality which her portraits possess. Her perfect understanding of the value and effect of light and shade enables her to produce Rembrandt-like pictures which appeal to all lovers of that master.

“There is a fascination about the camera that leads one who uses it rightly on through unknown paths to ever fresh discovery — and those who have learned to use it rightly are using it now as the painter uses his colors, or the sculptor his clay, to express not only what they see but the way it looks to them at the inspirational moment.”

Theatre women c1909 (2)

Mrs. Robison’s first work was with a Kodak, and, like many another artist, discovered herself without knowing why or how; expression became a necessity, and subsequently photography a profession. She has shown her work at international exhibitions, and received a medal for its merits from the Birmingham (England) Society of Photographers and also at several other exhibitions, including the Royal Photographers’ society of London.

Her portraits of children are a delight and have that spontaneity and freshness which belong to unconscious childhood, showing that the lady behind the camera knew how to win their confidence and get that happy naturalness otherwise impossible.

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Another form of expression in which this artist’s powers are best exemplified is in draped figure studies. Their pose is always easy and graceful, and something classic in their feeling and beauty, a beauty that the artist sees and understands, and through her ability to properly present that perhaps almost phantom phase to her instrument, perpetuates.


Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, California) 1909

Upper images from Theatre magazine, c1909; Newspaper photos directly above by Hana Robinson (1909)

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