The photographs in this exhibit, initially taken to document a routine contemporary event or an activity and used for publicity, insurance claims, or newspaper ads, now provide us with the opportunity to glimpse the not-so-distant past. The photographs give us a chance to compare and contrast how the occupations of San Diegans have evolved and how they remain familiar. Some of the earliest photographs in this exhibition were taken by J.A. Sherriff. Working in the 1870s, Sherriff, like many of his successor photographers in San Diego, photographed construction projects, views of the city, and merchants in front of their stores. Also featured in the exhibition are the photographs of Guy Sensor who seemingly photographed every car dealership, factory, restaurants and new home in San Diego between 1925 and 1940; Roland Schneider and Florence Kemmler Schneider, who recall a wide cast of strange characters and events happening around town in the 1920s; Norman Baynard who served the community for 30 years (1940s-1970s) by documenting African-American life, activities, style, and family life; Larry Booth covered San Diego on the ground and in the air for Title Insurance’s promotional magazine Title Trust Topics during the 1950s and 1960s; and Charles Schneider photographed everything from models to power line workers between 1950 and 1985.
Especially important are the Core Collections of photographs and negatives in this exhibition. These collections include the vast archive of the Union Tribune Collection, the Title Insurance Collection, and the SDHS Negative Collection. The San Diego Historical Society Research Archives contains the works of other photographers such as Herbert Fitch, Walter Averette, Lee Passmore, F.E. Patterson, Harry Bishop, Jimmy Erickson, Howard W. Rozelle, who photographed San Diego from their studios, from airplanes, on the edge of cliffs and in the middle of busy streets….trying to get the best shot for their client. Now their work is available to the public in the Society’s Research Archives. These photographs are a testament to the endurance of their work.