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Victor Georg

Time Period: 
200 W. 57th St.; 229 W. 43rd St., NYC


Son of Victor Georg, the important Springfield, Illinois photographer, Victor Emil Georg was born shortly before the consolidation of his father's Springfield Studio in 1886. The elder Georg was an entrepreneur and experimentalist who mastered all aspects of the photographic process. He had a taste for panorama cameras and outside event photography as well as the studio portraiture that was the bread and butter of the professional photographer.

Victor Emil Georg was trained by his father and was dispatched to work at the Chicago branch of the business in the 1910s. There he built a reputation for capturing the extravagant personae of opera stars. He was the first American photographer to shoot Jeritza and created what would become Galli-Curci's standard publicity image.

Around 1915 Georg moved to New York City to establish an independent career. A series of portraits given full-page treatment by Vanity Fair  in 1916-1917 created a demand for his services in New York. In 1918, he worked in conjunction with movie studios, providing publicity and designing titles (including those for D.W. Griffiths’s "Way Down East," until hired by the New York Times to serve as photo editor in 1925. He later directed the New York Times Studio. His duties included presiding over the Mid-Week Pictorial, a photo tabloid dominated by amateur contributions from New York citizens and sold for 10 cents by the Times at newsstands throughout the city. His photographic work in the later 1920s was credited to the New York Times Studio or the New York Times Wide World Studio.

Later in the decade his failure to keep up with innovations in the technological and chemical end of photography, particularly the development of color printing led to his dismissal. He left New York, establishing a studio in St. Louis. David S. Shields/ALS


A portraitist trained as a fine artist while being exposed at home to the whole range of professional photography, Victor Georg possessed great versatility in his art. His broad familiarity with genres and technical questions made him an important figure in the history of mass printed imagery. He was responsible in the mid-1920s for increasing the reproduction fidelity and aesthetic quality of photographs published in the New York Times.

In 1924, he commented upon aspects of his photographic technique to an intervewer. Preparing the sitter: "I don't manipulate the camera at all until everything else is done. I leave my subject alone in the studio for a few minutes, to let them get accustomed to their surroundings. Then I talked with them, let them forget that they've come just to have pictures made. During this conversation I am quietly studying them, and deciding for myself the type of a portrait I will make of them." On lighting: "Much can be done with lights; a face can be emodeled with them, in fact. A receding chin can be built up if a face is properly lighted. A nose that is not well modeled can be changed. A stout woman can be made thin." About retouching: "It really is a necessity. The very strong lights under which we work, the powerful lens and the extremely sensitive films that are used today produce a negative and print that reveal more than the naked eye sees. Retouching merely brings the photograph to normal." Concerning make-up: "Powder can do something toward covering defects of the skin but powder absorbs the light and produces 'flatness', and therefore I do not believe in the use of make-up."

NOTES: Violet Dare, "Victor Georg the Magician," Olean Herald 8-29-1925.