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Leco Photo Service

  • Name:
    Leco Photo Service
  • Kind of Organisation:
    Photo Lab
  • Introduction:

    Leco Photo Service was a photofinishing lab, highly-frequented and a contact hub for émigré photographers and photo agencies during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as a provider of employment for women in the photo industry.

    Word Count: 36

  • Content:

    The photo lab and darkroom were founded by Leo Cohn, who had worked as a professional photographer in Germany and managed a shirt factory. No more details are available on his life and work before his emigration and all that is known is that he emigrated to New York around 1939 and “went into business as a photofinisher, with Black Star picture agency as his first customer. His first laboratory was the kitchenette of his apartment on the 94th Street in New York City. From the first, his policy was to offer a high type of photofinishing service at a reasonable price to professional photographers. There was a real need for the service” (Kelley 1947, 192). From October 1940, he ran his business from the Salmon Tower Building at 11 West 42nd Street. It was opposite the New York Public Library and near Central Station, close to such photo agencies as Black Star, Rapho Guillumette, PIX, Three Lions and Graphic House and also close to the editorial headquarters of magazines like U.S. Camera, Life and Popular Photography.

    As not every émigré photographer developed and enlarged his images by himself in a studio and there was a need for images during the 1940s, Leco Photo Service provided an important service and also acted as a contact hub. While they waited for their pictures to be processed, the photographers had the opportunity meet and get to know other photographers, editors and writers. Among the lab's émigré clients were David Seymour (Chim), Herbert Gehr, Philippe Halsman, Fritz Henle, Ylla, Eric Schaal, Elli Marcus and Henry Rox as well as Andreas Feininger.
    After his arrival in New York in 1939 David Seymour worked at Leco where he enriched his knowledge of photo chemistry and physics in fine-grain developing as well as learning new, faster methods of print control (Bing 1996; Beck 2005).

    Besides David Seymour, the German émigré Erika Stone also started her later career as a photographer working as a darkroom assistant at Leco. Articles in Popular Photography on Leco’s photo lab, and on work opportunities for women in the photo sector and women photographers, cites Leco Photo Service as a business where, in 1947, the staff were mainly women. Among them were Ilse Heller, Ilse Nothman, Ilse Rumpler, Ilse Steinitz, Bernd Steinitz, Jeanne Granolles, Marcelle Alexander and Seymour Levine. (Kelley 1945; Kelley 1947) One article reveals that many women and emigrants were hired by photographic businesses. We know from other émigré women, such as Ruth Bernhard and Erika Stone, that photofinishing and darkroom work were largely female occupations and provided a starting point for émigré and non-émigré women in the photo business and a subsequent career as a photographer. So, it is possible that other women employed as assistants at Leco also went on to careers as photographers, though no names or details are available.

    Word Count: 465

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    11 West 42nd Street, Midtown Manhattan, New York City (1940–?).

  • Signature Image:
    Advertisment Leco Photo Service (Photo: Helene Roth).
  • Media:
    Leco Photo Service mentioned in Etna Kelley. “Woman in Photography.”, Popular Photography, June 1945, pp. 23 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Article on Leco Photo Service by Etna Kelley. “Photofinishing Plus.” Popular Photography, February 1947, pp. 84–85 (Photo: Helene Roth).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Beck, Tom. David Seymour (Chim). Phaidon, 2005.

    Bondi, Inge. “1947 – Germany.” (1996) CHIM: The Photographs of David Seymour. Accessed 5 February 2021.

    Gilbert, George. The Illustrated Worldwide Who’s Who of Jews in Photography. G. Gilbert, 1996.

    Kelley, Etna M. “Women in Photography.” Popular Photography, June 1945, pp. 20–23, 56/57, 108–114.

    Kelley, Etna M. “Photofinishing Plus.” Popular Photography, February 1947, pp. 84/85, 192–194.

    Le Goff, Hervé. Pierre Gassmann. La photographie à l’épreuve. Delory, 2000.

    Stevens, Norma, et al. New York at Night. Photography after dark. Power House Books, 2012.

    Stone, Erika. “Es war ein Schock für mich als wir erfuhren, daß wir jüdisch sind.” Emigranten in New York, edited by Ellen Küppers, Klaus Boer, 1995, pp. 33–47.

    Stone, Erika. Mostly People. Fotografien einer deutschen Emigrantin in New York, edited by Sibylle Appuhn-Radtke and Helmut Heß, exh. cat. Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, 2001.

    Stone, Erika. Especially People. Einfach Menschen. Photographien – Photographs. Gryphon Verlag, 2004.

    Word Count: 138

  • Author:
    Helene Roth
  • Date of Founding:
    1939
  • Participants (selection):

    Andreas Feininger, Fritz Henle, Henry Rox, Erika Stone, Ylla.

  • Metropolis:
    New York
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Helene Roth. "Leco Photo Service." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2948/object/5145-9613252, last modified: 04-05-2021.
  • Andreas Feininger
    PhotographerWriterEditor

    Andreas Feininger, was a German émigré photographer who arrived in New York with his wife Wysse Feininger in 1939. He started a lifelong career exploring the city's streets, working as a photojournalist and writing a large number of photography manuals.

    Word Count: 39

    Portrait of Andreas Feininger by Fritz Henle, 1940/41, cropped detail (© Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Andreas Feininger Archive, Photo: Helene Roth).
    Portrait of Andreas Feininger by Fritz Henle, 1940/41 (© Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Andreas Feininger Archive, Photo: Helene Roth).Andreas Feininger, 1, Stockholm, 1937 (© Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Andreas Feininger Archive, Photo: Helene Roth).Andreas Feininger, Close Up Equipment, 365 West 20 St. New York, 1940 (© Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Andreas Feininger Archive, Photo: Helene Roth).Andreas Feininger, “An Amateur’s Wartime Darkroom.” U.S. Camera, April 1942, pp. 28–29 (Photo: Helene Roth).Scrapbook of Andreas Feininger with photographic essay “New York. A big spectacle in big pictures.” Life, 14 April 1941, pp. 86–87 (© Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Andreas Feininger Archive, Photo: Helene Roth).Scrapbook of Andreas Feininger with article and photographs by him. “Experimenting with Lights at Night.” Popular Photography, February 1947, pp. 44–45 (© Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Andreas Feininger Archive, Photo: Helene Roth).“Feininger’s Workshop - photo facts in pictures. Unsharpness and its cause.” Popular Photography, May 1949, pp.54–55 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    New York
    Erika Stone
    Photographer

    Erika Stone is a German émigré, who moved to New York with her parents and sister in December 1936, at the age of 12. She went on to carve out a career as photographer.

    Word Count: 32

    Portrait of Erika Stone, 1951 (© Erika Stone, Courtesy of Katarina Doerner Photographs, Brooklyn, NY).
    Letter in which Erika Stone (Klopfer) is honoured as photo contest winner for Life magazine, November 1926, 1951Erika Stone, Bowery Beauties, New York, 1946 ( © Erika Stone, Courtesy of Katarina Doerner Photographs, Brookly, NY).Erika Stone, Harlem Street Photographer, NYC, ca. 1950 ( "Lot 182: Erika Stone" by sfcamerawork is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
    New York
    Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs
    Photobook

    Manhattan Magic is a photobook which was published in 1937 by the German émigré photographer Mario Bucovich in New York City.

    Word Count: 20

    Cover of Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing, 1937.
    First page of Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 8–9.“Looking from the 17th floor of the Irving Tower at No. 1 Wall Street. In the center is the Singer Building, forty-five stories high, and in 1910 the highest tower in Manhattan.” Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 30–31.Pennsylvania and Central Station in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 46–47.The Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 28–29.City Hall columns and Woolworth Building in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 32–33.Skyscrapers shadows with a view on 60 Wall street tower and Irving Trust Company in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 18–19.Last page of Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 46–47.Cover of Washington D.C. by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1936.
    New York
    Black Star Agency
    Photo Agency

    The German émigrés Kurt S(z)afranski, Ern(e)st Mayer and Kurt Kornfeld founded Black Star in 1936. The photo agency established was a well-run networking institution in New York.

    Word Count: 31

    Letterhead of Black Star (Black Star Archive. Ryerson Image Center, Photo: Helene Roth).
    Logo and Stamp of Black Star Photo Agency (Photo: Helene Roth, 2019).Description of Black Star in a photographic guide (Ahlers, Arvel W.. Where & how to sell your pictures. Photography Publishing Corp., 1953, p. 45).Werner Wolff, K.S. Safranski’s Class in Pictorial Journalism, 1950 (New School for Research Archive, Photograph Collection © Steven Wolff).Facade and entrance of the Graybar Building on Lexington Avenue (Photo: Helene Roth, 2018).Cover of Selling Your Pictures by Kurt Safranski (Ziff Davis Publishing Company, 1940).Black Star contract by Fred Stein, April 1, 1944 (© Fred Stein Archive).Announcement of "Pictorial Journalism. Photographs as a Language and their special Problems" course by Kurt Safranski at the New School for Social Research, Spring 1949 (© The New School Archives and Special Collection, The New School, New York).Letterhead with the logo and address of Black Star (© Fred Stein Archive).
    New York
    Oceana Publications
    Publishing House

    Oceana Publications Inc was a publishing house specialising in law and civil rights founded by the British émigré Philip F. Cohen (1911–1998) in 1945.

    Word Count: 22

    Logo and imprint of Oceana Publications Inc.
    Cover of Immigration Laws of the United States by Carol McCormick Croswell (Oceana Publications, 1953).Cover of How to become a citizen of the United States by Margaret Esther Hall (Oceana Publications, 1953).Cover of Suffer Little Children by Marion Palfi (Oceana Publications, 1952).Review of Marion Palfi's Suffer Little Children by Eleanor Roosevelt published in Des Moines Tribune, 10 December 1952, p. 20.
    New York
    Rapho Guillumette
    Photo Agency

    Founded in 1940 by the emigrant Charles Rado (1899–1970), Rapho Guillumette was a picture agency.

    Word Count: 13

    Rapho Guillumette agency letter to Fred Stein, 1944 (© Fred Stein Archive).
    New York
    Three Lions Inc.
    Photo Agency

    Little is known about this photo agency, which was founded by two German émigré brothers, Max Georg and Walter Löwenherz in 1937 in New York

    Word Count: 25

    Logo of Three Lions Inc. (© Center for Creative Photography, Marion Palfi Archive, AG 46:1A).
    Mention of Three Lions in a photographic guide (Ahlers, Arvel W.. Where & how to sell your pictures. Photography Publishing Corp., 1953, p. 46).Job advertisement of Three Lions published in Aufbau magazine, 1. September 1939, no. 16, p. 26 (Photo: Helene Roth).Advertisement of Three Lions (Billboard, 11 February 1967, p. 37).
    New York
    Photo-Representatives
    Photo Agency

    Photo-Representatives was a photo agency founded by the photographers Erika Stone and Anita Beer in 1953.

    Word Count: 15

    Stamp of the photo agency Photo Representatives (© Erika Stone, Courtesy of Katarina Doerner Photographs, Brooklyn, NY).
    New York
    Pavelle Laboratories Inc.
    Photo LabPhoto Supplier

    Pavelle Laboratories was found in 1936 by Leo and Carmen Pavelle and operated on East 42nd Street. It was specialised in the development of miniature camera film and one of the first labs working with colour film.

    Word Count: 36

    Logo of Pavelle Laboratories in Popular Photography, December 1943, p. 88.
    Article on Pavelle Laboratories (White 1951, 131).Article on Pavelle Laboratories in White 1951, 132–133).Advertisement for Pavelle Laboratories in Popular Photography, December 1943, p. 88.
    New York
    Modernage Photographic Services Inc
    Photo Lab

    Modernage Photographic Services was founded in 1944 by the German émigrés Ralph and Leuba Baum and specialised in photofinishing services. In 1954 a second branch, Modernage Custom Darkrooms, was opened.

    Word Count: 29

    Advertisement Modernage Photographic Services in The Norwalk Hour, 3 June 1969, p. 25.
    New York
    Service Photo Suppliers Inc.
    Photo Supplier

    Service Photo Suppliers was a photo supplier distributing a wide variety of photo equipment and opened by the German émigré Hans Salomon (1909–?) in 1945.

    Word Count: 23

    Logo of Service Photo Suppliers, Inc. (Popular Photography, December 1948, p. 231).
    Advertisement of Service Photo Suppliers, Inc. in Popular Photography, December 1948, p. 231.
    New York
    Spiratone
    Photo Supplier

    Spiratone was a photo company and photo supplier founded in 1941 by the Austrian émigré family Hans (1888–1944) and Paula Spira (?–?) and their son Fred Spira (1924–2007).

    Word Count: 24

    Logo and address of Spiratone in Popular Photography, June 1947, p. 104.
    Advertisement in Minicam, vol. 5, no. 1, September 1941 p. 73; 84; 100Advertisement for Spiratone in Popular Photography, October 1949, p. 5.
    New York
    Ruth Bernhard
    Photographer

    Ruth Bernhard was a German émigré photographer who lived in New York from the 1920s to the 1940s. Beside her series on female nudes, her place in the photography network, as well as in the New York queer scene, is unknown and understudied.

    Word Count: 43

    Lotte Jacobi, Ruth Bernhard, 1945, New York (© 2021. University of New Hampshire).
    Scrapbook and published work by Ruth Bernhard (Ruth Bernhard Archive, Special Collection Princeton University © Trustees of Princeton University).Lifesavers by Ruth Bernhard, published in Advertisment Arts, January 1931 (Ruth Bernhard Archive, Special Collection Princeton University © Trustees of Princeton University).Still Life of dolls for Macy’s by Ruth Bernhard, published in Graphic Arts, 1931 (Ruth Bernhard Archive, Special Collection Princeton University © Trustees of Princeton University).Ruth Bernhard, Eighth Street Movie Theater, Frederick Kiesler-Architect, New York, 1946 (Diversity Corner is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0).Exhibition flyer for Ruth Bernhard Photographs, PM Gallery, 1938 (Ruth Bernhard Archive, Special Collection Princeton University © Trustees of Princeton University).Description of Ruth Bernhard Photographs exhibition, by Kurt Safranski, PM Gallery, 1938 (Ruth Bernhard Archive, Special Collection Princeton University © Trustees of Princeton University).
    New York
    Ylla
    Photographer

    Ylla was an Austrian-born photographer who emigrated to New York in 1941. Specialising in animal photography, she produced not only studio photographs, but also shot outside on urban locations in the metropolis.

    Word Count: 31

    "Speaking of Pictures … this is the work of the Bachrach of Dog Photography.”, images by Ylla and published in Life, 17 November 1947, pp. 18–19. (Photo: Helene Roth).“Babytime at the Zoo”, images by Ylla, Life,14 May 1944, p. 43. (Photo: Helene Roth).“Ylla’s cameras tells. A tale of two kittens ... .” Popular Photography, Dezember 1951, pp. 50–51 (Photo: Helene Roth).Profile photo of terrier by Ylla (Camilla Koffler), ca. 1938, published on the cover of U.S. Camera, October 1940 ( © Waverley123 (Pryor Dodge) at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons).Advertisement in The New Yorker (November 14, 1953, p. 184) for Ylla’s book Animal’s in Africa (Photo: Helene Roth).Published photograph by Ylla Back to Methusala, Regent's Park London for U.S. Camera. Annual 1943, edited by Tom Malloney, Radom House, 1943, p. 90.Fritz Neugass. “The saga of the S.S. Winnipeg.” Modern Photography, July 1951, pp. 72–73 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    New York
    Fritz Henle
    Photographer

    Fritz Henle was a German Jewish photographer who emigrated in 1936 to New York, where he worked as a photojournalist for various magazines. He also published several photobooks of his travels throughout North America and Asia.

    Word Count: 35

    Portrait of Fritz Henle by Herbert Matter, New York, 1937 (© Estate Fritz Henle).
    Fritz Henle, New York at Night, New York, 1936–1950s' (© 2021. Fritz Henle Estate).Fritz Henle, New York Reflections, New York, 1936–1950s' (© 2021. Fritz Henle Estate).Fritz Henle, The L Train on Wall Street, New York, 1936–1950s' (© 2021. Fritz Henle Estate).Fritz Henle, Brooklyn Bridge and Baby Carriage, New York, 1936's-1950 (© 2021.Fritz Henle Estate)Fritz Henle, New York Skaters from the RCA Building, New York, 1936–1950s' (© 2021. Fritz Henle Estate).Fritz Henle, New York Art Critic at Washington Square, New York, 1936–1950s' (© 2021. Fritz Henle Estate).“The American Legion takes New York City.” Life, 4 October 1937, pp. 24f.Photographs by Fritz Henle for the reportage “Memo to: Walter Wander, Subject: 52nd Street.” Life, 29 November 1937, pp. 64–67 (Photo: Helene Roth).Cover of Paris photobook by Fritz Henle (Ziff Davis, 1947).“Men who love Paris. Fritz Henle and Elliot Paul combine pictures and text in a handsome book about their favorite city.” Popular Photography, January 1947, pp. 60–61.Norris Harkness. "Simplicity. Fritz Henle’s fashion shots prove that the easy way is often the most effective." Popular Photography, August 1944, pp. 36–37.Victor Kepler. “There’s adventure in night photography.” Popular Photography, August 1942, pp. 28–29.Cover of Fritz Henle’s rollei (Hastings House, 1950).Cover photo by Fritz Henle, Life, 30 July 1939.
    New York
    Henry Rox
    PhotographerSculptor

    Henry Rox was a German émigré sculptor and photographer who, in 1938, arrived in New York with his wife, the journalist and art historian Lotte Rox (née Charlotte Fleck), after an initial exile in London. Besides his work as a sculptor, he began creating humorous anthropomorphised fruit and vegetable photographs.

    Word Count: 50

    Portrait of Henry Rox published in Life, June 1941, pp. 11 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Cover of Banana Circus by Henry Rox and Margaret Fisher (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940).Inside view of Banana fakir Bim in Banana Circus by Henry Rox and Margaret Fisher (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940).Inside view of strong Banana man Tim in Banana Circus by Henry Rox and Margaret Fisher (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940).Henry Rox fruit and vegetable photo models published in "Speaking of Pictures ... These Are Table-Top Photographs.“ Life, 18. November 1940, pp. 12–13 (Photo: Helene Roth).“Speaking of Pictures … Fruit Figures Make A New Kind Of Cartoon Strip.” Life, June 1941, pp. 10–11 (Photo: Helene Roth).“Sculpture you could eat.” Detroit Free Press, 17 December 1944, pp. 18–19 (Photo: Helene Roth).“Sculpture you could eat.” Detroit Free Press, 17 December 1944, pp. 20–21 (Photo: Helene Roth).Cover photo by Henry Fox for Family Circle, February 1958 (Photo: Helene Roth).Postcard with fruit and vegetable sculpture by Henry Rox. Rox Karte Serie 158/3 (Archive Helene Roth).Postcard with fruit and vegetable sculpture by Henry Rox. Rox Karte Serie 158/6 (Archive Helene Roth).Postcard with fruit sculpture by Henry Rox as advertisement of the vitatonin C drink (Archive Helene Roth).
    New York
    PIX Publishing Inc.
    Photo Agency

    PIX Publishing Inc. was a photo agency founded in New York in 1935 by photo agent Leon Daniel and Celia Kutschuk, together with German émigré photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt and George Karger.

    Word Count: 30

    Letterhead of PIX Inc. – Correspondence Daniel Leon with Fred Stein, 1943, cropped detail (© Fred Stein Archive).
    Letterhead of PIX Inc. – Correspondence Daniel Leon with Fred Stein, 1943 (© Fred Stein Archive).Mention of PIX Publishing in a photographic guide (Ahlers 1953, p. 46).
    New York