Photography in 1904

It’s always fun to research new things, and I had fun learning about cameras and photography in 1904. The Century Camera was a favorite of professionals, and the Brownie was an all-around every man’s camera that was sold well into the 1960s. I actually played with one that I found in my attic growing up. Here’s an excerpt from Rachel’s Reunion about photography during this time:

He took her hand and led her to his camera. “And now, I’d like to introduce you to my most prized possession. The Century Camera.” The unmistakable pride in his voice as he placed a hand on the wooden tripod that held the contraption aloft caught her attention. “It’s a high caliber camera. Used by only the best photographers.”

Rachel inspected the polished mahogany box covered in black leather. She ran a fingertip across the warm brass hardware that sparkled in the sunshine. “It’s beautiful.”

“I have a Brownie and a folding pocket Kodak for everyday pictures, but for portraits and masterpieces such as I’m taking today, she’s the key. Just months ago, this new camera led the technology breakthroughs introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair. I’m thrilled to have it.”

Rachel shivered. “Not to impute your skill, sir, but I doubt you’ll create a masterpiece by taking a picture of me.”

Chester gazed at her with such admiration she went weak at the knees. “Oh, but my dear Rachel, in all my travels, I’ve never seen a face like this.” He cupped her chin tenderly, scanning her face. “Not in the gilded halls of New York, nor the finest hotels of Chicago. Not even at the World’s Fair, which I attended. Your face exceeds them all.”

Rachel’s breath caught in her throat under his flattery. “You mock me, sir.”

He threw his hands up in surrender. “On my mother’s grave, I do not.” He withdrew his hand and slapped his thigh. “But let’s end this banter and get to work. Martha will attend to your ministrations while I finish here.” He waved his hand toward the maid and turned his back to her, thus ending their conversation. “Martha. Chop chop.”

The buxom, middle-aged woman patted the chair. “Come, let’s prepare you for the camera. You have such lovely hair, miss.”

Rachel halted. “Prepare me?”

The matronly woman held out her arms as if to embrace a child. “Just a tad. To enhance you. Not make you a courtesan. Fear not, my dear.”

Reluctantly, Rachel sat and let the woman work on her hair. “You did a fine job on your Gibson. A few adjustments, and it will be perfect. Then we’ll do your makeup.”

Rachel’s hands flew up to her warming cheeks. “No makeup. It would be too… embarrassing.”

Martha put her hands on Rachel’s shoulders and patted them. “The camera needs a little shading else you’ll look like a corpse. Don’t worry. We’ll wipe it all off before anyone sees.”

Rachel swallowed her angst and allowed Martha to add a few dabs of rouge to her cheeks and lips before handing her the mirror.

The woman’s dark eyes twinkled. “There now. You’re simply stunning.”

About Rachel’s Reunion

Summer 1904

Rachel Kelly serves the most elite patrons at the famed New Frontenac Hotel on Round Island. She has wondered about her old beau, Mitch, for nearly two years, ever since he toyed with her affections while on Calumet Island, then left for the high seas and taken her heart with him. Now he’s back, opening the wound she thought was healed.

Mitch O’Keefe returns to claim his bride but finds it more difficult than he thought. Returning to work at the very place he hated, he becomes captain of a New Frontenac Hotel touring yacht, just to be near Rachel. But his attempts to win her back are thwarted, especially when a wealthy patron seeks her attention. Who will Rachel choose?

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