The Art of Banquet Photography

Banquet photos are panoramic group portraits that offer a unique way to capture a milestone event by fitting every attendant into one picture. While banquet photography has waned in recent years, this historic art form is nevertheless starting to make a comeback.

How It Works

The hallmark of a banquet photograph is deep focus, providing so much detail that you can read the time on a person’s wrist watch while fitting as many as 500 people into one photo. It requires a special banquet camera, a large format 12X20 inch film camera with a 1 to 2 aspect ratio, much like today’s flat-screen TVs. For 75 years, these cameras were used in large club dinners, annual functions, and banquets (hence the term “banquet photography”).

The History of Banquet Photography

The Art of Banquet Photography

Banquet given by Order Sons of St. George, St. George Day, April 23, 1904, Auditorium, Chicago.

Banquet cameras were first used as landscape cameras in the mid-1800s, but the development and improvement of flash powder in the early 20th century allowed photographers to use them indoors. As a result, they were soon repurposed for panoramic photos. Throughout the rest of the early 20th century, banquet photography remained popular, but by the late 1960’s, the leading practitioners of banquet photography were retiring, and the Baby Boomer Generation was losing interest in group affiliations. Banquet photography was on its last legs, and, as of today, there is only one studio in the United States that offers traditional, banquet photography services.


“Resurrecting a Lost Art”Banquet Photography

While banquet photography became less popular throughout the latter half of the 20th century, we here at Gruber Photographers have dedicated ourselves to “resurrecting a lost art,” as The New York Times put it. The Gruber Photographers team was schooled in banquet photography by the 50-year veteran Jayson Jons, and we have incorporated his teachings into our practice. For our banquet photos, we use an authentic, 100-year-old banquet camera and flashbulbs, capturing your event as photographers did in the early 20th century.

With our traditional 12×20 black & white banquet photography, you can receive a beautiful photo with the date, location and event inscribed within the photograph that is certain to make your event memorable. Contact us today to learn more.

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