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Pioneering panoramic photographer dies

October
27
1986

On this day in 1986, photographer E. O. Goldbeck died. The San Antonio native, born in 1892, decided to pursue a career in photography in 1901 after he captured a candid shot of President McKinley in a San Antonio parade. Within weeks he had purchased his own camera and was taking and selling impromptu portraits of his classmates and teachers. After graduating from Main Avenue High School in 1910, he traveled extensively, purchased his first Cirkut camera, and began experimenting with the panoramic format. Known as the "unofficial photographer of America's military," Goldbeck pushed the limits of his craft by working with ever larger groups in striking designs. For his largest group shot, in which 21,765 men were arranged to represent the Air Force insignia, he spent more than six weeks building a 200-foot tower and making blueprints of the formation and attire of his subjects. The photograph was subsequently featured in Life magazine and became the most frequently reproduced of his prints. In 1967 Goldbeck discovered that many of his early negatives had deteriorated in storage. He subsequently donated 60,000 of his negatives and more than 10,000 vintage prints to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas.

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