Bulson, Caryl W.


American, 1882-1969


The rudimentary methods for recording photographic mug shots were later applied to all manner of bureaucratic identification photographs, from passport photos to driver’s license portraits. In 1910, New York was the first state to require driver’s licenses, but only for professional drivers or chauffeurs, and the license required that a photograph be attached. In 1929, in the upstate village of Middleburgh, New York, a long-time furniture-store owner and some-time photographer named Caryl W. Bulson, advertised to take pictures for these licenses. His small notice in the Schoharie Republican for May 16, 1929, states: “PICTURES TAKEN—Pictures taken for chauffeur’s license. Developing and printing done. Kodak films and cameras and supplies. Bulson Brothers, Middleburgh, N. Y.” It is likely that this ad relates to this group of portraits of rough-hewn farmers and other rural tradesmen aspiring to be professional drivers.

Artworks by Bulson, Caryl W.

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