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Caught Our Eyes: The (Camera) Subject Rules?

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I can never resist a demonstration that the subjects of photos sometimes undermine the efforts of even the most professional photographers. The original caption for this photograph emphasizes charity, but the expressions on the two young boys’ faces suggest that they were feeling anything but charitable towards the photographer.

Friendship Charity Fete, Leiter Children. Photograph by Harris & Ewing, 1915.
Friendship Charity Fete, Leiter Children. Photograph by Harris & Ewing, 1915.

The photo is one of thousands produced by Harris & Ewing, Inc., a Washington, D.C. firm that documented local people, events, and architecture, during the period 1905-1945. Clues in the pages of the Washington Evening Star suggest that the “fete” mentioned in the caption was a fund-raising event held at Friendship, the country estate of John R. McLean. The Leiter children were probably the sons of Joseph and Juliette Leiter, members of a wealthy Chicago family who had relocated to Washington, D.C. a few years before the photograph was taken.

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  1. This picture is priceless. They look like a 1915 version of ‘gangsta boyz’. I can remember my mother dressing me like this when I was 3 or 4 years old…in about 1950.

    Thanks for the great pics!

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