Giving Us The Big Picture Final Issue

June 30, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen Paul McCardell of The Sun's library staff contributed to this article.

For years the sepia-toned photogravure section of the Sunday Sun was distinguished by the photographic artistry of A. Aubrey Bodine, Robert F. Kniesche and Hans Marx. With the creation of Sun Magazine in 1946 the trio had a large, new venue for their work. Joining them in the next few years would be such prize-winning photographers as Richard Stacks, Ellis Malashuk, William Klender and Paul H. Hutchins. Coming along several decades later was another award-winner, David W. Harp.

The acknowledged dean of Sunday Sun photographers was Bodine, whose work was eagerly collected in his heyday and is still sought after today, 26 years after his death. Framed copies of his weekly double-page photo spread in the magazine are still to be found on the walls of homes and offices throughout the state.

While Bodine's pictorial essays were synonymous with the Tidewater region, they often clashed with reality. Highly idealized, they reflected the way he thought Maryland ought to look.

Through darkroom wizardry and a technical expertise that was greatly admired by readers and other photographers alike, Bodine created some of the most memorable images of the state.

Robert F. Kniesche was a member of the Sunpapers' photographic staff for 41 years and for many years was the paper's photo director. In the 1930s, Kniesche had recognized the value of using airplanes for gathering news quickly and for aerial photography. As a magazine photographer, he became well-known for his aerial views of the city and its environs. He retired from the paper in 1971.

Hans Marx, who joined the Sunpapers in 1937 and later became staff photographer for the magazine, often found himself in direct competition with Bodine. Both men had a liking for the same subject matter, particularly old houses, interesting people, ships and oddments found around the state.

Marx's work was widely exhibited during his prime (including a one-man exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in the 1950s). He retired in 1955 and moved to Lewes, Del., where he lives today.

Richard Stacks, whose evocative photographs graced the magazine from the mid-1950s until 1969, was described in a 1956 article in The Sun as having "a sure eye with an acute sense of the decisive ... " The same article also noted that Stacks "captures with both economy and precision."

From the 1950s through the early 1980s, the talented and versatile trio of Ellis Malashuk, William Klender and Paul H. Hutchins handled a variety of photographic assignments for the magazine. These ranged from the job of shooting the popular "House of the Week" feature to illustrating full-length stories.

David W. Harp not only inherited the Sun Magazine's grand photographic tradition when he was assigned to the publication in 1982 but added greatly to it. A lifelong Marylander, he had joined the Sunpapers in 1976.

"His work is really a celebration of the region and its people," said Susan Baer, magazine editor from 1983 to 1987.

Harp had a versatility that could be found not only in his provocative and revealing portraits but also in his studies of the Chesapeake Bay, a favorite subject of his.

Since leaving the magazine in 1990, he has published two books -- "Water's Way" and "Swan Fall" -- and worked as a free-lance photographer. His work has appeared in Smithsonian, Audubon, Sierra and Natural History magazines. He also donates his photographic talent to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

After Harp left, the job of magazine staff photographer was held briefly by Jed Kirschbaum and then from 1990 to 1993 by Patrick Sandor. From then until now, nearly every photographer on The Sun's staff shot for the magazine.

Fred Rasmussen is a staff writer for The Sun.

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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