Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Posts Tagged ‘photography’

In Vivid, Living Color

Posted by Admin on November 24, 2010

Although movies had been filmed in colour since the 1920s, there were times when a movie theatre just had to make the most of it when promoting a new movie.  And there were times when advertisers made the most of the phrase “in vivid, living colour” outside of movie making situations.

As recently August 2009, the phrase “in vivid, living colour” was used in the daily internet publication,  American Thinker.  Devoted to the “thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans” the entry entitled “ObamaCare and Bush League Democrats” the author, J. Robert Smith wrote:

At a recent town hall, a pretty little girl, whose mother was an early Obama supporter, read a question from a slip of paper.  The President, knowing that the ball would be teed-up, swung hard and level.  Bang!  To the delight of his fans, a homer.  But tee-ball doesn’t matter, not if you can’t manage the game.   The President watches TV and reads the daily rags.  Not even MSNBC or The New York Times can ignore widespread popular unrest.  In vivid living color, the President sees very un-Alinsky seniors and middle class Americans give the what-for to shrinking, mealy-mouthed Democrats — daily. 

Back in the early 1980s, as inflation was running rampant in America, stories abounded, telling the woeful tale of poor housing markets and mortgages in default among other things.  In an article in the Deseret News run in May 28, 1981, the editor ran a story entitled, “Pity Poor Folks Who Live High Above the Tide Of Inflation.”  It read in part:

He bought his second home when they weren’t so popular.  He put down as little as he could and he borrowed the rest at interest rates less than half those of today.  If pressed, he refinanced.  Now he may rent his place at big prices to those with money beyond their immediate means.  These are among the people who own those places the day-trippers envy.  Unlike so many hourly and salaried workers, they  have the ability to float rather than be swamped by the inflation tide.  Various studies have long shown the sharp dichotomy in the two styles of life, but there is nothing like a day trip to the prime resorts near every population center to bring home the point in vivid, living color.

For Christmas 1966, the Gettysburg Times newspaper ran an advertisement for Ziegler Studios that read:

Have Your Family Portrait Taken For Christmas!  There’s still time … and it’s a swell idea either for a gift, or a gift to yourselves and your home.  But HURRY … the deadline for accepting appointments is near … and so is Christmas!  Don’t think about it anymore … call us today and make your appointment for a setting in your home and our studio.  Nothing will give more than your family in vivid, living color mounted in an attractive frame.

It wasn’t just e-magazines, bad economies and professional photographers that made use of the term either.  The Ludington Daily News ran an article in the June 24, 1963 edition entitled “Food Ads Criticized By Agency” in which it was reported:

“Our American system of food distribution is really one of the greatest show on earth,” Whitney said.  “It’s a giant, multi-million-dollar spectacular, staged in vivid living color, and exploding with human interest, scientific marvels, humor, fascinating, behind-the-scenes adventure stories, the snob-appeal of food as a status symbol, the romance of foods of far-away places, the emotional warmth of a mother’s instinctive desire to feed her young.”

Talk about making a leap from five years earlier when, in October 1958, the Chicago Daily Tribune ran an advertisement on page 6 in section C that promoted a movie that was reportedly a cinematic wonder on film of the “French love novel that shocked the world!” 

The movie was “A Certain Smile” and was released on September 22, 1958.  It starred Rossano Brazzi, Joan Fontaine and Johnny Mathis, who also sang the theme song, and was the first feature film for actor, Bradford Dillman (who went on to such movies as “The Plainsman” and “The Iceman Cometh”).  The movie hype was based in large part on the fact that the movie was “in vivid, living color!” 

So while the phrase may have been used in conversation, the first published use of the phrase “in vivid, living colour” appears to go back to this movie and no further.

Posted in Advertising, Idioms from the 20th Century, Slogans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Snap Shot

Posted by Admin on November 22, 2010

The term “snap shot” has had a colour albeit short life in comparison to other terms.  It can mean a brief overview of a situation or a quick biography or a photograph or to hunting or even to hockey!  The history of the term “snap shot” is certainly varied and interesting.

Being nearly hockey season, I think providing that meaning at this point is helpful to all non-sports fans alike.  So when “snap shot” is used while discussing hockey, it refers to a quick shot where the blade of the stick is drawn back a short distance and then rapidly driven forward, with the wrists snapping inward after the puck leaves the stick.  In other words, a “snap shot“has the accuracy of a wrist shot blended with the power of a slapshot.

If we’re talking photographs and photography, then a “snap shot” is something else altogether.  Way back in the day, on March 8, 1896 — and much to the delight of readers of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper — the following headline was published:

Ghatty’s Snap Shot Photographers A Tramp!

The sub-headling below read:

And It Brought Her Great Good Fortune, Where She Expected The Reverse.

Eight years earlier, in the Journal of the Bombay Natural  History Society, Volume 3 in the segment entitled “Notes on Sambhur and Sambhur Stalking” written by Mr. Reginald Gilbert and read at the Society’s meeting on August 6, 1888, the following account was shared:

The horn is here, and has been given by me to this Society. On the 27th December , 1886, when stalking with Mr. Barton near the Taptee River, a few miles from Asirghur, in the Central Provinces, I put up a monster stag sambhur out of a thick nullah. It ran down the nullah. I was standing on the top. I only saw him for a second or two, and had only time to take a snap-shot at him before he passed round a bend in the nullah. The shell hit his horn from behind and knocked it off, splitting it up as you see. I picked the horn up and here it is.  I never saw that sambhur again; but to the last day of my life I shall never forget him or cease to regret I missed him.

From reading these last two uses for the term “snap shot” one might think that while hunting version of the term continued into the 20th century, that the camera version was something that came about sometime after 1890.  Not so.

On March 14, 1839, John Herschel — whose father was renowned astronomer William Hershel, the discoverer of Uranus — presented his paper entitled “Note on the Art of Photography or The Application of the Chemical Rays of Light to the Purpose of Pictorial Representation”  to the Royal Society.  The subject of the paper related to the first glass-plate photograph which was taken by Herschel and it is this photograph to which he referred to as being a “snap shot.”  He also coined the terms “negative” and “positive” within the context of photography.  For those who are curious, the photograph was that of his father’s 40-foot telescope, already a half-century old at the time the shot was snapped.

The hunting term “snap shot” was coined in 1808 by English sportsman Sir Henry Hawker.  His use of the term was a gun shot at a fast-moving target that was both quick and without aim.

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