The Day In Its Color: Charles W. Cushman

“Photography is not a contest. If you want it to be, it can be that, but it’s about being a witness to your times.” -Rich Remsberg

I love coming across work of photographers who are in it, not for the fame or notoriety, but for the pure love of capturing moments in time. There is no ego involved, just the joy of using a camera. Charles W. Cushman was one of those photographers. He was just an average businessman and hobbyist photographer living in Chicago in the 1930’s when he first discovered the recently-developed color film, Kodachrome. The first photo he took was of his red Ford Coupe with the then-new Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. The year was 1938. After that, he was never far from his Contax IIA 35mm camera, shooting across the country as he traveled for business as well as pleasure. He spent more than three decades creating a photographic record of, not only America, but Europe and the Middle East as well.

NPR Picture Show has created a fantastic rich-media site showcasing many of Cushman’s photographs. Using his own notes as a guide, archival image researcher Rich Remsberg and historian Eric Sandweiss provide insight into not only the amazing collection of photographs, but also Charles Cushman himself; who he was, his insights into a changing America, his obsessive nature, even the tumultuous marriage to his wife Jean, who, at one point, tried to kill him and then herself. It’s an absolutely fascinating story and a wonderful collection of images that cover more than three decades of change in virtually all aspects of life. Cushman used photography to document history as it unfolded, to record the things he felt were meaningful and important. He used photography to ask the question “Are we just making noise, or are we really processing the passage of time?”


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[via The Picture Show]

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