Historically Speaking

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Archive for November 26th, 2010

Shutterbug

Posted by Admin on November 26, 2010

Shutterbug refers strictly to the world of photography but in recent years, it has come to include video taping and animation. Photographers taking shots via cell phones, however, are not considered shutterbugs as those photos are for social networking purposes and not for the art or beauty of the photograph.

Over the years, the term “shutterbug” has been used in print and broadcast media and in conversations, however, the origins of the term “shutterbug” is far more difficult to trace.

The Pittsburgh Press ran a news story on December 30, 1945 about a book entitled, “Mr. Digby” written by Douglass Welch and published by Putnam Books.  The hero of the book, Mr. Robert H. “Happy” Digby, was a photographer for the Central City Informer.  The book review headline in the newspaper read:

Story About A Shutterbug: News Photographer Hero of Book

Elsa Maxwell’s Party Line was a column that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  On August 11, 1943 Elsa’s column was dedicated to Miriam Hopkins whom she referred to as a “winsome wisp of vitality.”  In her column she wrote:

For, if not an expert, she is, at least, a most competent shutterbug.  She photographed her way around Europe in 1936, and probably has the last pictures of the Vienna of yesterday.

The Los Angeles Times ran a column called Camera Corner and back in February 1939, Harold Menselsohn responded to a question sent to him by Raymonde Geemar.  His response read in part:

Shutterbug Raymonde Geemar wants to know how to focus a ground glass-type camera in making pictures at night when conditions are none too good. Use the same method press photographers employ.

Before 1939, I was unable to locate published references for the word shutterbug however it was most certainly being used frequently in every day conversations for it to be used so easily in newspaper articles of the day.

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