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Ned Scott, unlikely candidate, becomes Hollywood photographer

on Saturday, 29 October 2011. Posted in News

Ned Scott was an unlikely candidate to join the ranks of still photographers in the mid 1930's. Practitioners of that unique art form achieved their positions after careful training in respected and well recognized national schools. Ned Scott never had such training. After becoming a member of the Camera Club of New York, a loosely organized non profit group of photographic enthusiasts, in 1930, Ned Scott befriended fellow members Paul Strand and Henwar Rodakiewicz and fell under the influence of Alfred Stieglitz. They stimulated him to travel to Ranchos Iglesia de Taos in New Mexico to create a photographic study of that iconic structure which he did in 1931. He also involved himself in commercial work in and around New York City. During the early years of the '30's, the Camera Club members critiqued his prints, offered suggestions, and honed his talent. It was with these connections that Scott began his first movie assignment, the Mexican funded but American produced and directed protest film “Redes” in 1934. His stills were so well received that once that production ended, he decided to tote his cameras to Hollywood to become a still photographer. He must have appeared a strange candidate to the established photographer ranks with his excellent recommendations but no formal training. Those wielding the large format cameras on Hollywood stages in the mid 1930's likely had little idea of Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz or remote churches in New Mexico. Theirs was a cloistered world. However, it was with Henwar's wide connections among film directors and producers that Scott got his first film job, “Spring Night” with Tania Tuttle in 1935. It wasn't long before he was asked to photograph “The Good Earth” in 1936, but at the last minute he was sidelined due to the fact that he had no union affiliation. Scott corrected that oversight, and more and more film assignments arrived, and Scott's reputation as a freelance stillman continued to strengthen. Only five years after beginning his career as a still photographer, Scott achieved the acclaim of his peers for a character portrait for the film “The Long Voyage Home” in 1940. And so the Camera Club member whose associates included some of the finest fine art photographers of the day stepped successfully and honorably into the world of Hollywood film production, straddling both worlds and finding satisfying achievement in each. Despite this early ringing success, Ned Scott felt something of the outsider among the ranks, a feeling which became magnified when he moved from Santa Monica Canyon to La Canada in 1940 due to health concerns of his wife, Gwladys.

Peter Stackpole photo of Ned Scott

Peter Stackpole photo of Ned Scott taken in 1940 Santa Monica

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