The photography of Sarasota’s Joseph Janney Steinmetz
It’s hard to imagine Florida before Disney, but these photos by Sarasota photographer Joseph Janney Steinmetz may take you back in time to an Old Florida Christmas.
Steinmetz’ work appeared in many magazines, including the venerable Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look and Time, plus he did commercial photography for the Florida tourism office and the Sarasota-based Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Steinmetz moved his family from Philadelphia to Sarasota in 1941 and photographed life there until his death in 1985.
Steinmetz photographed a wide range of celebrities of the day in Sarasota including iconic circus clown Emmett Kelly, high-wire daredevil Karl Wallenda and choreographer George Balanchine, who in 1942 received a commission from Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus to choreograph a polka for elephants.
These images by Steinmetz were donated to the Florida Memory Project, which has digitally archived more than 180,000 photographs from the State Library and Archives of Florida. The photos are now part of the public domain. (I could spend hours looking at photos in the Florida Memory Project.)
The collection is “without question the most significant photographic collection we’ve obtained,” archives supervisor Joanna Norman once told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “The guy was a master photographer.”
Steinmetz Family Christmas Cards
In order to appreciate the Steinmetz family Christmas cards, you have to appreciate photo technology of the time. There were no computers. Instead of images being manipulated in Photoshop, the artistry occurred in the dark room or at the artist’s easel.
More Christmas in Florida from Florida Rambler
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
from Florida Rambler!
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.