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.
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.
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.
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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.