Doris Kenyon by Russell Ball, Motion Picture Magazine, 1928.
Motion picture still photography, just like any brand marketing, is all about creating a recognizable and attractive product appealing to consumers and leading to sales. Going a step further, stills photography’s aim is to fashion a fantastic dream world, taking people into the realm of fervid imagination. Russell Ball, one of the early masters of portraiture, composed alluring, glamorous images of stage and screen stars, accentuating a naturalistc romanticism in his work.
Born March 24, 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Russell Earp Ball fell in love with photography as a twelve year old, shooting when he could. He worked as a Gas Light Manufacturing Co. salesman in 1910 supporting his mother after the death of his father, per the 1910 census. By 1912 Ball was working in New York as a newspaper photographer, and married his wife, Gladys Hall, later a famous movie magazine writer, on February 1, 1912. His World War I draft registration in 1917 lists him as a commercial photographer, and by 1920 he was shooting motion picture portraits, per the 1920 census.
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