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!
Other examples show rather precarious or elaborate set-ups for the baby or toddler photo op!
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.
- View hundreds more photos of babies – with their families sometimes purposely included- in the C. M. Bell Collection.
- Revisit the original Picture This post about this theme: Anything to Get the Shot: Giving Baby a Hand.
- Learn more about the entire C. M. Bell collection in a Picture This post: C. M. Bell Studio Collection: Newly Digitized Portraits.
- Enjoy the previous entries in our blog series about challenging photography: Anything to Get the Shot.