Salem Willows Tintypes - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA
Methodist Episcopal Church Picnic - August 10, 1904
Marcella Riggs, William Ross, Hector Peabody, and Estelle Bowen

Although Salem had been an early adopter of photography, the field experienced a boom at the turn of the 20th century. Photographers like Frank Cousins and Leland Tilford were most active at this time, taking and selling souvenir images of Salem landmarks and everyday life. At the same time photography made its way to Salem Willows, where it quickly became a competitive novelty item.
Tintypes, an early form of photography, found a revival in carnivals and resort destinations in the 1890s. Around 1904 Mr. H.J. Esbach and Mrs. C.E. Leighton opened competing studios on the Willow’s Fort Ave. Unlike other types of photography, tintypes were inexpensive, quick, and offered a laid-back approach. Many subjects wore their work clothes, came barefoot off the beach, or brought their own props to take silly photos for friends and family. For lower and middle-class Salemites, tintypes offered an economical option in capturing family portraits and documenting special outings that otherwise wasn’t available to them.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.
Images above are from their collections. 

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