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Lawrence Bio

George Lawrence

Americas First Commercial Aerial Photographer

George Lawrence is perhaps best known for his series of aerial photographs depicting the destruction resulting from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. However Lawrence had already been active as an aerial photographer for many years. Much of his photography is focused on the panoramic view and what better panoramic view than the view from the sky.

Using special panoramic cameras he designed himself Lawrence first tried 20-ft ladders, next a 200 ft telescoping tower of wire and wood, then lighter than air balloons, and finally a series of kites to lift his cameras aloft.

Dubbed the Lawrence Captive Airship it utilized a string of seven kites to lift the specially designed cameras to heights of 2,000 ft. Cameras weighing as much as 49 pounds and capable of producing negatives from 10 x 24 inches to a staggering 30 x 87 inches in size. The largest negatives yet taken from any airborne vehicle.

Each image was produced as a direct contact print producing images with extreme clarity and detail. The exposure was made by sending an electrical signal through the kite string to a solenoid shutter release. When the exposure occurred a small parachute was released. At this signal that the picture had been taken the kites were pulled down and the camera reloaded. 

All in days work for a man who's business slogan was "The Hitherto Impossible in Photography is our Specialty."

To learn more about George Lawrence click here

The link will take you to a wonderful series of articles by Dr Simon Baker detailing George Lawrence and his fascinating life.

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