Group Shots: 50s Features

GroupShot1by Robert Smythe

Andrews-Newton was an Ottawa-based photography agency that operated between 1946 and 1993. Perhaps most famous for their pictures of car crashes, burning buildings and assorted catastrophes, their stock-in-trade was the group shot assignment for weddings, funerals, awards ceremonies and social events of all kinds. Photo: CA-3604 – Well-padded clergy at the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner, St. Patrick’s Church Hall, Gloucester Street, March 17, 1954.

GroupShot2Founded by Bill and Jean Newton, and later joined by Andy Andrews, the company employed up to 20 photographers at a time. Their primary client was the Ottawa Citizen, but they also did a vast amount of commercial and industrial work. When the firm wound up, the Andrews-Newton collection, amounting to over two million prints and negatives, was donated to the City of Ottawa Archives. Photo: CA-4491 – A presentation at the Lisgar Collegiate Institute’s closing exercise, June 4, 1954.

GroupShot3Shooting primarily throughout the 1940s and ‘50s on a 4×5 Speed Graphic camera, the workhorse apparatus of news photographers before the wide-scale use of 35mm film, the resulting images on large negatives captured a richly detailed record of social life in Ottawa. Over 10,000 have been scanned and are available through the City Archive’s online digital collection. Photo: CA-7501 – St. Barnabas Church group winners at the city-wide Anglican Youth People Association’s drama festival, February 22, 1955.

GroupShot4It’s a bottomless trove of personal histories that documents the styles, streetscapes, and behaviours from a time that seems impossibly innocent today. But we know that, behind the conventional artifice of these stiffly posed compositions, life was probably just as complicated. Photo: CA-4890 – The Campagnola-Wood wedding party on the steps of St. Theresa’s Church, Cartier Street, July 17, 1954.