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The history and mystery behind the life and work of an iconic American photographer. Millions know his work, yet few know his name...

The History & Mystery:

It is an icon of 20th century photography and one of the world’s best selling images. The improbable tableau of eleven men on a lunch break seated on a beam 800 feet above the city of Manhattan. Taken in the worst year of the great depression, the photo captures a world without safety nets where workers calmly courted danger to survive. But look again at the image. There’s a whimsy to this domestic scene and an almost defiant insouciance to its subjects. The photograph communicates not so much a social condition to be exposed, but an attitude to be celebrated. In these eleven men at rest, but always at work, we see camaraderie, determination and daring- the very qualities needed to rebuild a broken nation. They represent the epitome of the American experience.

For over 70 years, the author of one of the most iconic images of American Photography has remained a mystery. Millions know his work, yet few knew the name of the man behind the lens: Charlie Ebbets. This project will change all that. Our book will tell the history and mystery behind why one of the world's most famous photographs remained identified as "anonymous" for almost 70 years. It will share spirited stories of adventure and daring in a man who spent over 50 years as a master behind the lens. Finally, it will re-introduce to the public, the work of this pioneering photographer that was almost tragically lost for all time.

Our Project:

For the past 12 years, I have been cataloging and archiving over 16,000 photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, personal notes and professional memorabilia that led to the identification of my father, Charles C. Ebbets, as the author of the famous "Men on A Beam" photo that is recognized the world over as an icon in American photography, yet often still identified as "anonymous". For nearly 30 years following his death, the bits and pieces that made up his photographic legacy sat undisturbed, slowly decaying in boxes hidden in the recesses of his widow's home. Scattered among the countless prints and negatives were the detritus of a life: clippings, correspondence, work orders, receipts-even his snakebite kit and a Colt revolver from his many trips from the Florida Everglades backcountry to the jungles of South America. Stitched together, they told the story of an outsize personality and artistic mind with an insatiable appetite for derring-do.

Charlie was a pioneering photographer, outdoorsman and adventurer who explored unmapped regions, raced cars, piloted airplanes, walked on wings, wrestled professionally, hunted big game and befriended men from Presidents to Indian chiefs who shared his passions.This was a man who had started the Miami Press Photographers Association, been one of  the Associated Press' earliest official photographers for the South, done pioneering aerial and publicity work, shot thousands of never before seen images of the Florida Everglades and its Seminole Indian inhabitants, won awards throughout the southeast for his work, had his work held in the prestigious Bettmann Photo Archives, and founded the City of Miami Publicity Bureau...Yet he died in relative obscurity. Why?

In order to answer this question and re-introduce his work to the world, this book will tell the amazing facts behind not only the Men on A Beam image of the 11 steelworkers, but also the stories surrounding Charlie's outsized character and his pioneering work as a photographer. To accomplish this goal, I have teamed up with writer Matthew Miele. Together, Matthew and I have put together the stories and photographs that will make this book both entertaining and enlightening to the countless millions who are fans of the famous steelworkers shot, and anyone else who has ever been an admirer of vintage photography.

We have worked hard to make sure this project will be a success by putting in place a strong network of support personnel, utilizing the exclusive cooperation of Charlie's widow and heirs to access the entire estate collection of photographs and narratives, and are also in the process of working with producer Christopher Walker in filming a documentary about his life and the famous photograph entitled "SKYWALKERS". There is also a script written for a feature film or miniseries based on the historic photo and the great race to the sky as seen through the eyes of Charlie as a young photographer in New York City. Our documentary film focuses on the fascinating stories behind the image and it's relevance to America's emergence from the darkest days of the Great Depression and the men of New York City, from simple steelworkers to titans of industry, who rebuilt this country from the brink of disaster.This collaborative approach and the companion film will create unique built-in marketing and promotional opportunities to distribute the book.

The Costs

Thus far, our project has been completely self-funded by members of what we fondly call "The Beam Team", but now we need your help. As a reminder to those of you who may be new to Kickstarter, if our project doesn't meet its goal by the established end date, then no pledges of support will be processed. It's that simple; you can rest assured that you backing a winner, or your pledge doesn't go anywhere. We want to have the book ready to debut this Fall to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the photos' creation. The heart of the  manuscript is already written, and now must be edited and prepared for printing in time to meet our deadline of October 2012. In order to do that, we have decided to go with self-publishing our work.

Our plan is to print an initial run of 1,000 books in both hardcover and electronic formats. Our estimates show that it will take approximately $15,000-$18,000 for the completion of writing, editing and the initial print run, $2000 in start-up marketing and around $2,500-3,000 to fulfill production and shipping of rewards. That's a bit more than our Kickstarter goal, but we wanted to make this a reality above all else, so we have kept it as attainable as possible. With your support we may even "over-achieve" our stated goal. If that happens, every penny will be put into increasing our print run and marketing presence to ensure the projects success.

We have the team of writers, editors, publishing affiliates and marketing routes identified. Now we just need your help and support to make this a reality. Please join us in telling Charlies' story and re-introducing his historically significant body of photographic work to the world. On behalf of my father, my mother and the Beam Team, I want to thank you for your time and consideration.

The Rewards

"OK" you say, "I'm in!", but what do I get in return? Besides the satisfaction of knowing you have helped make a dream into a reality and have placed an historical collection of photographs back into general circulation where they belong, you will also receive some pretty cool pieces from that body of work and a chance to share in the journey. In fact, to put it simply, you are the bricks that will build our road to success. Just decide on what level of support you want to go with, and then follow the simple steps below to join us. There is something for everyone, and some pretty unique opportunities for our biggest fans and collectors of vintage photography.

(For specifics on individual reward levels, please see the categories listed on the right. You can also see images of some of the actual rewards by clicking on this link to go to our Facebook page for the book, heading over to our web page at EbbetsPhoto-Graphics.com, scrolling to see some of the photos below, or e-mailing us at epg@ec.rr.com for more information.)

***PLEASE NOTE: For all of our supporters outside the continental US, we respectfully ask that you add $15 to your reward amount on the items in our reward packages of up $200 or $75 to your reward amount on amounts over $500 to cover overseas shipping. Thank you for your understanding and support.

Signature Series Image 1: The Photographer and Men on a Beam

Signature Series Image 2: Men on a Beam, Rockefeller Center, 1932.

Signature Series Image 3: The Photographer

Signature Series Image 4: "Making A Name", Miami, Florida, 1930.

Signature Series Image 5: Florida Everglades Rookeries, 1937.

Signature Series Image 6: A Perfect Day at Sea, Miami, 1948.

Auction items: Vintage Print 1: Florida Everglades Bird Rookeries, 1937.

Auction items, Vintage Print #2: Baseball legend Ted Williams, 1955.

Auction items, Vintage Print #3: Seminole Indian leader Charlie Billie, 1937.

How to Make a Pledge

It's easy. You're already here, so you're ahead of the game. Now just follow the steps below:

Step 1: Click on the green “Back This Project” link button on this page.

Step 2: Type in the amount you wish to give, choose your reward, then scroll down and click “continue to next step” button.

Step 3: Log In or Sign-up to Kickstarter. Just enter your name, email address and apassword of your choice.

Step 4: Click on the green “Continue to Amazon” link…(you’re almost done!)

Step 5: Log in or Sign in to Amazon. Fill in your email and Amazon password.

Step 6: Fill in your Credit Card information: credit card type, number, card holder’s name and expiration date.

Step 7: Fill in your billing address and click on the yellow “Continue” link.

That’s it! Your pledge has been received and you are now officially a part of this project! Don’t forget to check your email inbox for a confirmation email from Kickstarter, and be sure to check back on our project page for updates on our progress and sneak peeks into the book.

THANK YOU- and welcome to the Beam Team!

Questions?

If you have any additional questions about our project, please feel free to contact us at the links above and we will do our best to provide the answers you need.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    3 backers

    Thank you for your support and belief in our project! At this level, you will receive our sincere gratitude for your help and your name added to our mailing list where you will get updates on our progress, see additional photos from The Ebbets Estate Collection before they are released in print, and read exclusive excerpts form the book.

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  • Pledge $15 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    All of the above, plus a personal thank you note from the author on a 5x7 frame-worthy CARD STOCK PRINT from the Ebbets Photo-Graphics Signature Series collection.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    6 backers

    All of the above, plus, an ELECTRONIC COPY of the book upon release for publication.

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  • Pledge $35 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    All of the above, PLUS, a set of beautiful blank NOTE CARDS featuring Charlies scenic wildlife work from the Florida Everglades. ***PLEASE NOTE: For all of our supporters outside the continental US, we respectfully ask that you add $15 to your reward amount on the items in our reward packages of up $200 to cover overseas shipping. Thank you for your understanding and support.

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  • Pledge $50 or more
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    10 backers

    At this level, you will receive our sincere gratitude for your help, a personal THANK YOU NOTE from the author on a 5x7 frame-worthy card, your name added to our mailing list for exclusive updates, PLUS, a PRINTED COPY of the book.

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  • Pledge $75 or more
    You selected

    5 backers

    Wow- thank you so much! Clearly you are a fan of vintage photography and the famous photo of the Men on a Beam. At this level, you will receive: a personal THANK YOU NOTE from the author, your name added to our mailing list for EXCLUSIVE EXCERPTS, updates and photos, a SIGNED EDITION of the book, plus, a beautiful 8”x10” FINE ART PRINT of your choice of photos from the Signature Series Collection (see link to images on our main page or on our FB page).

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  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    10 backers

    All of the items at the $75 level, plus a SECOND 8X10 PRINT of the image of your choice from the exclusive Ebbets Photo-Graphics Signature Series, a SHOUT OUT ON OUR WEBSITE Facebook page thanking you for your generosity, AND a PERSONAL INSCRIPTION OF YOUR BOOK to a recipient of your choice. Thank you, thank you, Thank you!

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  • Pledge $200 or more
    You selected

    5 backers

    You will receive a PERSONAL THANK YOU NOTE from the author, your name added to our mailing list for exclusive updates and photos; a SHOUT OUT ON OUR WEBSITE Facebook page thanking you for your generosity; 2 SIGNED PERSONALLY INSCRIBED books AND a custom printed 18 x 24” POSTER PRINT of the Signature Series composite image of Charlie and the Men on the Beam (see image on our main project website). Wow…can you tell how much we appreciate you yet!?

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  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    How can we thank thee...let me count the ways...At this level, you will receive a PERSONAL THANK YOU NOTE from the author, exclusive project updates and photos; a SHOUT OUT ON OUR WEBSITE Facebook page thanking you for your generosity; 4 SIGNED, PERSONALLY INSCRIBED copies of the book; 4 custom printed 18 x 24” FINE ART POSTER PRINTS of the Signature Series Image #2, plus, you will be listed in the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS SECTION of the book and receive a 16” x 20” ARCHIVAL GICLEE' PRINT (museum quality) of your choice of any one of the images from the Signature Series (see images below). That's 3 gift sets to give and one to keep! ***PLEASE NOTE: For all of our supporters outside the continental US, we respectfully ask that you add $75 to your reward amount on the items in our reward packages of over $500 to cover overseas shipping of your artwork. Thank you for your understanding and support.

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers

    All of the above listed at the $500 level, plus your choice of a 24” x 30” FINE ART GICLEE PRINT on paper OR a 16x20 CUSTOM CANVAS of your choice of image from the Ebbets Photo-Graphics Signature Series Collection (or if you prefer, any image from the EPG website).

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  • Pledge $2,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    You are truly one of Charlie’s Champions! To show our sincere gratitude, we are offering you a blockbuster package of the following: a PERSONAL THANK YOU NOTE and PHONE CALL from the author, your name added to our mailing list for EXCLUSIVE updates and photos; a SHOUT OUT ON OUR WEBSITE Facebook page thanking you for your generosity; recognition of your generosity with YOUR NAME IN THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS SECTION of the book; 5 signed and personally dedicated copies of THE BOOK; 5 POSTER PRINTS, a PERSONAL INVITATION TO THE PRIVATE BOOK LAUNCH and press party in Manhattan; and a beautiful 24x30” GALLERY CANVAS of your choice of any image from the Signature Series (or if you prefer, any one of Charlie’s images on the EPG website). BUT WAIT-THERE’S MORE! The first three supporters at this level will receive an EXCLUSIVE INVITATION to join author and film Director Mr. Matthew Miele and Producer Mr. Christopher Walker ON A NYC SHOOT OF THE DOCUMENTARY Skywalkers now in production (for more information on the film, see us on the web at skywalkersthemovie.com). During your visit, YOU WILL BE GIVEN A CAMEO APPEARANCE IN THE MOVIE discussing your impressions of the famous image and Mr. Ebbets’ work. Upon completion, you will be NAMED IN THE FILM CREDITS and receive a SIGNED MOVIE POSTER and 5 DVD copies of the movie (transportation and lodging not included, must be available for filming by April 2, 2012).

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  • Pledge $3,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    SPECIAL OFFER: This is a very unique incentive that will be offered as an auction to only the 3 highest bidders, beginning with a minimum pledge of $3000. As the curator of the Ebbets Estate Collection of photographic archives, I oversee a magnificent collection of Charlie Ebbets’ original negatives, prints and personal memorabilia covering his 50+ year career as a professional photographer. In support of this book project, the family has agreed to allow the first-ever public release of 3 of his ORIGINAL 1930-1950s VINTAGE 8” X 10” SILVER GELATIN PHOTOGRAPHS that were hand-printed by the artist between 1936-1955. The 3 prints to be offered are: Bird Rookeries of the Florida Everglades, 1937; Baseball legend Ted Williams out for a morning jog in the Florida Keys, 1955, and Seminole Indian tribal elder and story teller Charlie Billie in his chickee hut in the Florida Everglades, 1937 (see images to the left on this page). The prints will be given out with first choice going to the highest pledge bidder, second choice to the second highest bidder, and third choice to the 3rd place bid. Each print will come with a signed Certificate of Authenticity and a personal note of Thank You for your support from the artist’s widow. Here’s how it works: the minimum bid will be $3000. Bidding begins on February, 18 and ends at midnight on March 10th. If you want one of these Collector’s photographs, do not pledge for it on the Kickstarter website. Instead, send us a message from the site, telling us what you wish to bid as your pledge and we will keep track of all bids received. On March 10th, I will contact the 3 highest bidders and ask you to make your pledges at that time. Once you have made your pledge, you will be offered your choice of the 3 antique prints based on your standing among the top 3 bidders. Don't miss out on this rare chance to acquire a true collector's piece.

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  • Pledge $4,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    The SHOWSTOPPER-For this generous support of our project, you (or your company) will receive a personal THANK YOU NOTE and PHONE CALL from the author, exclusive project updates and photos; a SHOUT OUT ON OUR WEBSITE Facebook page thanking you for your generosity; recognition of your generosity with YOUR NAME listed in the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS SECTION of the book; 5 signed and personally dedicated COPIES OF THE BOOK; 5 POSTER PRINTS from the Signature Series, a personal INVITATION TO THE PRIVATE BOOK LAUNCH and press party in Manhattan; and a MAGNIFICENT, CUSTOM PRINTED 4 foot x 5 foot ARCHIVAL GALLERY CANVAS of the image of your choice from the Ebbets Photo-Graphics Signature Series Collection (or if you prefer, any one of Charlies images on the EPG website). ***PLEASE NOTE: For all of our supporters outside the continental US, we respectfully ask that you add $75 to your reward amount on the items in our reward packages of over $500 to cover overseas shipping of your artwork. Thank you for your understanding and support.

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Funding period

- (35 days)