Materials: Metal, Glass, Wood
This object is a Seneca Competitor View Camera made by the Seneca Camera Manufacturing Company. The Competitor View was a part of the view camera series that the company created. View cameras are bigger and more complex to use than the roll-film cameras that were commonly used prior to digital cameras. The view camera was typically used for landscapes, architecture, and portraits. This type of camera captures the image on either an emulsion coated glass plate or sheet film. The Competitor View came in three different sizes 5 x 7, 6 ½ x 8 ½, and 8 x 10 inches.
The Seneca Camera Manufacturing Company started in 1895 and was based in Rochester, New York. The founders named the company after the Seneca-Iroquois tribe that was indigenous to the New York area. They often showed a Native American holding one of their cameras in their ads and brochures.Seneca mainly made simple cameras for the everyday person, including box cameras and folders, a folding camera.
The company did well until 1924 when it was sold to Conley Camera Company who was a subsidiary of Sears Roebuck & Company. Both the Seneca Camera Manufacturing Company and Conley Camera Company’s biggest competitor was the Kodak Company. The Kodak Company started off as the Eastman Kodak Company and founded by George Eastman who had the idea for a camera that was easier to handle when on trips when he was just 24 years old. Eastman was traveling to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and a coworker suggested that he take pictures on his trip. At the time the only camera that he could take with him was a large view camera, while looking for a camera for his trip he became fascinated with photography and wanted to make the process easier.
Prior to the late 1800s, photographs were taken using a “wet plate” system that used panes of glass coated in a special liquid to make a negative. This negative had to be “developed” into a photograph within 15 minutes or the image would be lost. The invention of a “dry plate” system for cameras meant that images could be stored for extended periods before being developed, making it easier to take photos on the go. Eastman developed a way to mass produce large quantities of “dry plates” for his cameras. The company continued to gradually advance its technology and started using film rolls in 1883 instead of glass plates. The film rolls were first used in view cameras, but the camera’s themselves started to become smaller and lighter. The first small Kodak camera was a box camera and from there it continued to get smaller and cheaper until it turned into the disposable camera of the twentieth century. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
This object is a contact printer made by Ansco Company in Binghamton, New York. Before photography became primarily digital, it was designed to create a photographic image from a film negative. Several images from a strip of film would be lined up on a sheet, creating rows of small picture prints, called contact prints. This contact printer was owned by James W. Zintgraff, Sr. Zintgraff, along with his son, James, Jr., owned and ran a well-known photography business in San Antonio from the 1920s through the 1980s.
James Zintgraff Sr. was a cameraman in Hollywood in the early 1920s. After deciding he didn’t like the pace of the west coast, he moved back to San Antonio with the idea of starting a local film industry. In 1927, he worked as a cameraman on a movie called “Wings,” which was filmed in several areas in and around San Antonio, and went on to become the very first movie to ever win best picture at the Academy Awards.
Around that same time, Zintgraff started a still photography business in his backyard. In the early days, the owner of the Coca-Cola plant in San Antonio would enlist Zintgraff to take pictures of the plant and warehouse. Zintgraff would run home, develop the pictures, and deliver them within four hours. He believed the owner was doing him a favor to help him get started.
Though there wasn’t much competition in the early days, James felt that Zintgraff Studios could attribute his success to “having a lot of good friends” from his time in Hollywood. When a movie premiere or famous people came to town, James would get the jobs through his Hollywood connections. Most notably, Zintgraff photographed Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman when they came to San Antonio for presidential duties. When James, Jr. joined his father’s business, he worked closely with Hollywood elites such as Cecil B. DeMille and even worked with John Wayne when he was filming The Alamo in Brackettville, a town about 130 miles west of San Antonio.
Through the years, Zintgraff Studios worked closely with some of the most well-known brands in the city, including Pearl, Lone Star, Rainbo Breads, and Coca- Cola. In addition, they were official photographers for the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, numerous Fiesta events, and captured thousands of photographs of area movie theaters, street scenes, parks, schools, and even the new Convention Center when it opened it the 1960s.
The photographs taken by the Zintgraff Studios span seven decades of history. They tell the story of San Antonio and its people. Today, more than 850,000 of the Zintgraff photographs are stored in the UTSA Special Collections Library, located inside the Institute of Texan Cultures. The moments they captured are locked in time, preserving a bit of the past for future generations. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
R. B. Enlarging Camera
Folmer & Schwing Division Eastman Kodak Co.
Materials: Metal and wood
This object is a photo enlarger that was used by Zintgraff Studios, a commercial photography studio in San Antonio in the mid-2oth century. A photo enlarger was used to make a larger negatives or a photographic print from the negative image created by the camera on to its film. A negative is the image that the camera captures on film. When looking at a negative of a picture the shades of the people, places or in the image are opposite to what they are in reality. Light colored objects are dark, and dark colored objects are light. A photo enlarger is a tool photographers used to enlarge a negative before developing the prints.
The many of the photographs taken by the Zintgraff Studio were donated to the University of Texas at San Antonio and are stored at the Institute of Texan Cultures in the Special Collections Library. One can find the digital uploads on the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Library’s Special Collections website. The photographers at Zintgraff Studios captured over a thousand unique images of San Antonio between 1930 and 1980. The photographers took pictures of the river walk, one of the center points of San Antonio. They captured pilots conversing by their planes at Kelly Field, which was a critical aviation base throughout both World Wars, as well as the celebrations held for the soldiers after the war. One picture captures a homecoming party for a general who returned from commanding the sixth army, which was in the South Pacific Theater during the war, which means the sixth army was in the Southern Pacific, around New Guinea. The sixth army helped isolate a Japanese base, and joined forces with the Australian Army and other U.S. forces near New Guinea in 1943. After General Walter Krueger came home on February 13, 1946 his family and friends through him a welcome home banquet at the Gunter Hotel.
The photographers at Zintgraff Studios also captured celebrations and parades that were held in and around downtown San Antonio. For example, the photographers took pictures of the Battle of Flowers Parade in the early 1930s. The parade celebrates the men who fell during the Battle of the Alamo and to celebrate the victory that came with the Battle of San Jacinto. As well as taking pictures of the citizens celebrating, the photographers also took pictures of streets on a normal day. These photographs serve as an important record of San Antonio’s past and they could help inspire the future. [Amanda Rock, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]
Lobb, Michael L., Robert S. Browning, Ann Krueger Hussey, and Thomas M. O’Donoghue. 1900. A brief history of early Kelly Field, 1916-1918. Kelly Air Force Base, Tex: Office of History, San Antonio Air Logistics Center.