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February 3, 2021

Indians at World’s Fair Trying to Prevent Picture Being Made by Reflecting Sunlight From Small Mirrors Into Camera, 1904

With 750 accredited photographers, and thousands of attendees armed with Kodak film that allowed 100 snapshots per roll, the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis witnessed camera-related clashes between attendees and exhibitors that were perhaps inevitable.

In this picture, Native Americans tried to sabotage an unauthorized photo by flashing mirrors whose reflections obstructed the shot. Not, as some believed, because they feared cameras would snatch their souls away, but because they were dependent on sales from their likenesses as much as their handicrafts.

(Photo by Richard Ross Whiting/ Library of Congress)


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