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B. J. Falk

Benjamin Jake Falk was born in New York City on October 14, 1853. Little is known about his early childhood or education. After graduating in 1872 from the College of the City of New York with a Bachelor of Science degree, he worked as a technician for George Rockwood's photographic studio. Shortly thereafter, he operated a studio with Jacob Schloss while studying graphic art at the New York Academy of Design. He incorporated his creativity with his love of science by making crayons for five years before enlarging his 14th Street studio into a photographic gallery in 1877.

Described as a member of photography's "old guard", Mr. Falk was always seeking alternatives to the old collodion process. Credited as one of first photographers to embrace dry plates, he soon began carving his own professional niche as an accomplished society photographer. He opened his Broadway studio in 1881, which quickly became known for its stylish celebrity portraits. To become even closer to his clientele, Mr. Falk also opened a studio at the Waldorf Hotel (later known as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel). During this time, his preferred lens was a 12 inch Hermagis. After a brief foray into stereographic portraits, he resumed his platinum portraits, which were printed on buff paper. When asked about creating successful portraits, Mr. Falk thoughtfully replied, "I name expression, posing and lighting in the order as they appear to be most important. The technique of the profession being absolutely under the control of the operator since the introduction of the dry plates, there is no excuse now for any but perfect photographic results. I have always made my price high enough, so that I did not have to consider the cost of material while doing my work."


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