If the picture right below was recent, probably it would be an edited pic, hence we would end up noticing the details: the two tone shoes, so old fashioned; the position of the subject, despite the evident uncomfortness; the easyness with which he holds the huge camera.
The picture though is at least 80 years old and it is certainly not photoshopped, therefore the 1st thing popping out is the unbelievable height in which the scene takes place, which blocks for good the recklessness of one of the most acrobatic photographers of the US: Charles Ebbets.
Ebbets took one of the most iconic pictures of all times, “Lunch atop a Skyscraper”, historical picture from 1932, which was confirmed as his own only in 2003. For 70 years the famous picture taken during the construction of the Rockefeller Center of New York, along with many others of the skyscraper,were kept in the Bettman Archives with the label “unknown photographer”.
“Lunch atop a Skyscraper” is a picture today very well known, often recreated by artists and other photographers, but it’s not the only picture that Ebbets took about the brave workers who contributed to create one of the cornerstones of the NY skyline.
Ebbets was a brave one himself, as he worked as a stuntman as well as an actor in mid 20’s. However his real passion had always been photography: he bought his very first camera at the age of 8, adding it to him mother’s bills.
At the age of 27 he was called to report, as a head-photographer, the development of the works at the Rockefeller Center. Right in this job, Ebbets took his popular lunch snap, during the last months of construction.
Why didn’t they give to him the paternity of the picture right away? Probably because there were many professionals who collaborated to the Rockefeller Center, but in many pictures the subject is Charles Ebbets himself. However no other photographer has ever claimed the credit for the snap.
Even through the picture appeared almost immediately in the Sunday magazine of the New York Herald Tribune, it became popular only many years ahead.
At the time, the photographers were not considered as artists but just as operator behind the machine, working on commission. Many times, the pictures were archived by the clients without any specific credit to the author.
The credit of the attribution of the historical picture went to the Ebbets family, that, while cleaning up through Charles documents, found the original invoices for the work done at the Rockefeller Center, copies of articles and the negative, in a glass slab, of the extraordinary lunch 260 m up in the air (850 ft).
Ebbets pictures are today gathered in a website made up by his daughter.