Anything to Get the Shot: Giving Baby Another Hand

With holdings of close to 16 million images, there are always new discoveries to be made in the Prints and Photographs Division. When collections become easier to search through digitization, staff are the first to go digging through the “new” images like kids in a visual candy store. During my exploration of the over 25,000 images recently scanned from the C.M. Bell Collection, I started spotting photos which fit the theme of a previous blog post: Babies! More specifically, the apparent long-lasting tradition of mostly hidden helping hands propping babies up for the camera. Photos like this, from various collections, inspired an entry in a blog series on tricky photography: Anything to Get the Shot: Giving Baby a Hand.

With help from C. M. Bell, I can add many more examples of baby getting a hand. Several of Bell’s photos, as in the first examples below, plainly show the person – perhaps the proud mother - connected to the helping hand and smiling down at their offspring. The helpers would have been cropped or blocked out in the final product, but since we scanned the original negatives, we can see the full, mostly unedited version and get a sneak peek behind the scenes!

Henzi baby. Photo by C. M. Bell, [between February 1901 and December 1903] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.14001

Henzi baby. Photo by C. M. Bell, [between February 1901 and December 1903] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.14001

Taylor baby. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between February 1894 and February 1901] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.07177

Taylor baby. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between February 1894 and February 1901] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.07177

Lloyd baby, R.B. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.04389

Lloyd baby, R.B. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.04389

Walls, Mrs. B. [baby]. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.02860

Walls, Mrs. B. [baby]. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.02860

James baby. Photo by C. M. Bell, [between February 1894 and February 1901] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.11016

James baby. Photo by C. M. Bell, [between February 1894 and February 1901] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.11016

Other examples show rather precarious or elaborate set-ups for the baby or toddler photo op!

Sutherland, baby. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.04740

Sutherland, baby. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.04740

Katie Byrns. Photo by C. M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.04735

Katie Byrns. Photo by C. M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.04735

Ronsaville [baby] Photo by C.M. Bell, [between March 1905 and August 1906] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.19614

Ronsaville [baby] Photo by C.M. Bell, [between March 1905 and August 1906] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.19614

And as you can imagine, not all the babies are so sure this whole operation is a great idea, as evidenced by their expressions in the photos below.

Callow, baby. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between February 1894 and February 1901] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.05898

Callow, baby. Photo by C.M. Bell, [between February 1894 and February 1901] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.05898

Brown, Mrs. Wm. [baby] Photo by C. M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.05367

Brown, Mrs. Wm. [baby] Photo by C. M. Bell, [between January 1891 and January 1894] //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/bellcm.05367

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