My ‘PR Picture Editor’s Knowledge’ post on this site the other week included among other things serious and not so serious;
“10. If you’re doing an aerial shot of people spelling out a brand name or symbol, you need at least twice as many people as you think you do.”
I stand behind that, but if you look at The Daily Telegraph, you can see the advice is hardly new. Arthur Mole and his colleague John Thomas were doing it over 90 years ago.
Arthur’s great nephew Joseph Mole, 70, says: “In the picture of the Statue of Liberty there are 18,000 men: 12,000 of them in the torch alone, but just 17 at the base. The men at the top of the picture are actually half a mile away from the men at the bottom” Picture: Caters News
Using at times up to 30,000 individuals, Mole and Thomas’s so called ‘living photographs’ were aerial shots of US soldiers forming giant symbols of America including Liberty Bell, Uncle Sam, The Statue of Liberty and even Woodrow Wilson. The images were used by the US government to boost public morale and support for US involvement in The First World War.
A collection of the photos been compiled by the Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago and is well worth a look if you’re pondering an a contemporary version.
Mole and Thomas: The living emblem of the United States Marines, formed by 100 officers and 9,000 enlisted men at the Marine Barracks, Paris Island, South Carolina Picture: Caters News
Apparently Arthur Mole would plan his designs by actually drawing an outline on his lens and then had troops mark out the image with flags. It could take a week to get all the outlines but only 30 minutes on the day to move the soldiers into position & get the shot.
I’m not so sure how photographers would take to drawing on their lenses today, but proof even then that the best PR pictures are always the best planned.
Post by Tim Kerr (Director & Picture Editor of PA Photocall)