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Stereographs of Florida and the Caribbean

Pictorial Style of Stereographs

Palm Beach

Picturesque scene


Tinted stereograph

In order to produce views with broad appeal, stereograph photographers generally followed a common vision and pictorial style, leading to widespread similarity of subject matter and technique. Stereoview manufacturers had great success in selling views suitable for genteel entertaining in Victorian parlors, leading to the vast production of sentimental and picturesque scenes.



Photographers specialized in depicting panoramic landscapes, bucolic agricultural vistas, and natural wonders, as well as people working in fields and relaxing at home. Images of civil unrest or poverty in the United States were largely avoided. However, patriotic images of American troops at war, the effects of natural disasters or impoverished peoples of non-industrialized countries were acceptable themes.

American troops at war
The Maine
Wreck of the Maine

Soldier reading letter

San Juan Hill, Cuba

Stereoview photographers shared many techniques with the aim of accentuating the illusion of three dimensions. Images were structured to emphasize depth by featuring bold foregrounds and slanting lines which reached into the background. Figures were often included within landscapes to indicate scale and to impart to the viewer an experience of standing in a particular location.

Tinted stereoviews, often hand colored by painters whose own market was being eclipsed by photography, enjoyed some popularity in the early years of stereoview production. This costly practice fell into decline on the heels of the 1873 economic depression and was only partially revived in the 1890s, with mixed levels of workmanship.

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