I recently read a New York Times article about Banquet Photos and am wondering about them. I am not sure what makes a photo one. What are the requirements?


Banquet Photos

A banquet photo was popular in the late 19th century till the 1960s, and is essentially a very large format group portrait. They are named banquet camera because they were to actually take pictures in large banquet halls.


Typical banquet photos are made with a 12x20 view camera such as the Kodak Banquet Camera. Extra wide angles are used to help capture the entire scene in a single shot. Many of these cameras also rotated on a stand while exposing the film in a pass from one edge to the other. Formats of banquet photos may include 5x12, 7x17, 8x20, and 4x10.


The biggest advantage to the banquet camera is the sheer size of the negative. The contact print is so large that the detail, sharpness, and ultimate quality of images from these banquet cameras is the true reason that they enjoy high regard.

Example video of a Banquet Camera: http://youtu.be/pdJ7yPqNWyw?t=2m18s

  • I'm a bit confused... Is any photo coming from a banquet camera a banquet photo, or only group portraits? – Imre Oct 31 '11 at 18:19
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    Banquet photos are created with banquet cameras and always contain large groups, but you could use a banquet camera to create any type of photo. They were typically used for banquet hall shots of groups in their prime, but as you can see in the video example, they can be used for a range of subjects. Let me know if this doesn't clarify it! – dpollitt Oct 31 '11 at 19:14
  • One popular and fun trick with the kind that rotates and exposes the negative progressively from one side to the other as a slit passes across the negative was to have a person stand on the far left as the image was started, then run behind the group to stand on the other end before the camera finished the shot. By so doing, the same individual could appear on both ends of the group in the same, single exposure photograph. – Michael C Dec 20 '16 at 0:19

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