Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Unseen" World War I photos

At the risk of re-linking what you may have already seen, I wanted to highlight what Dean Putney has been doing. His blog, the Walter Koessler project, represents much work in scanning, researching, and publishing a family heirloom: his great-grandfather's photo album. From Dean's first post:
It’s incredible for many reasons:

  • Walter was German, and he was an independent photographer. Most surviving photos from the war are from the Allies, and they tend to be propaganda or journalistic. Walter’s photos are very personal.
  • Walter was trained as an architect. When he left Germany after the war, he moved to Los Angeles and became an art director for some of the first talkie films. His photos are beautifully composed and well-shot.
  • Photography was going through big changes at the time, and Walter was a major early adopter. Film cameras were fairly new, and he took his in the trenches and everywhere else. WWI saw the first major use of airplanes in war, and Walter took aerial reconnaissance photos from biplanes and hot air balloons. Stereographs were also becoming more readily available at the time, and Walter made his own 3D images of life in the war.
  • Since Walter moved to Los Angeles so soon after the war, he preserved pretty much everything. The album was made in Los Angeles, and it’s about a hundred pages long, with over 700 photos in it. Since then, the album has been tucked away in Southern California, so it has no mold and has hardly faded at all.
Dean is running a Kickstarter project to publish the photos in a high-quality book. While he's already reached his goal, the project is open for another few weeks and there are bonuses for contributions of certain levels.

I highly recommend spending some time looking and reading through Dean's blog...it's a fascinating glimpse back to the war and puts a human face on it. The photo below is Dean's great-granfather Walter Koessler.

1 comment:

Brian Joseph said...

I took a quick look ay Dean's blog. Looks like some incredible pictures over there.

Thanks for the link!