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Occupationals

There is this difference between the painter and the daguerreotypist that the one is more indebted to fancy and imagination, and the other to practical experience for the attainment of success. They both woo shadows, but in a different manner.
Photographic Art-Journal , May 1852


The Staff of the Express Editor Woman and Child

Images of individuals posing with the tools of their trade, known as occupationals, are a special kind of studio portrait. Relying for the most part on the simple formula of frontal and pose, occupational portraits generally show the instruments of the sitter's profession casually held in the hand or discreetly placed on a table. Often they are distinguished by the attention paid to the beauty of the tools themselves and the ingenuity with which the daguerreotypist has made them part of the portrait.

The industriousness of the individual—and of the country as a whole—is made manifest of images of commercial images and modern equipment. New inventions—the large number necessitated the Patent Act of July 4, 1836—introduced new occupations, such as the Telegrapher (the teletype was introduced by Samuel Morse in 1838) and Daguerreotypist (announced in America also by Morse in 1839). Views of buildings such as Meyers & Co., Confectioners or Excelsior Building represent new wealth and urban development, offseting the loss of wilderness, just as the Surveyor represents the joining of science and vision necessary to claim a new land.
 

Merry A. Foresta, Secrets of the Dark Chamber


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