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Witzel Studios

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Witzel Studios was founded in Los Angeles by photographer Albert Walter Witzel (1879–1929) in 1909 and within a few years had become one of the city’s foremost portrait studios. The rise of the business paralleled the emergence of the film industry following its relocation from the east coast, and Witzel was soon in demand from Hollywood studios seeking to create interest in movies by circulating promo shots of their stars. Distinguished by moody lighting and dramatic poses and settings, Witzel’s photos soon set the tone for Hollywood studio photography and from the mid-1910s they featured frequently in fan magazines like Photoplay, becoming an important promotional and publicity tool. Witzel occasionally worked on assignment for the big picture studios, photographing many silent film luminaries including Theda Bara and Charlie Chaplin. Witzel’s business began to decline in the 1920s, by which time the relentless publicity machine had resulted in movie studios employing their own teams of photographers. Witzel Studios folded following Albert Witzel’s death in 1929.

Updated 2018