Fantasy Pre-Photoshop: The Photography of William H. Martin

March 17, 2012

Trick photogrpahy, special effects, is so easy and common now that its hard to imagine a time before Photoshop. But we came across the "trick photography" of William H. Martin, a photographer working around 1908, who was one of America'sfirst fantasy aritsts, and created this incredible series of Tall Tale Postcards. Giant crops, ducks the size of a small house, it was all in there.

According to the American Museum of Photography:

Exactly this formula proved the key to oversize wealth and success for a photographer named William H. "Dad" Martin. In 1894, he took over a studio in Ottawa, Kansas. Martin began using trick photography in 1908, producing a series of wildly exaggerated post cards. These were so popular that he sold his studio the next year to concentrate on the post card business.


Within three years, Martin's trick photos earned him a fortune. Demand was so strong that his firm reportedly purchased photographic emulsion by the railroad tank car-full (or was that another tall tale?) Martin sold the business in 1912 and founded the National Sign Company. So far as we know, he never again ventured into the darkroom. But during his brief career as a post card photographer, "Dad" Martin tapped into the national psyche with his own imaginative brand of homespun surrealism.