Forgotten Women Madam d’Ora – Part One

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, I thought I’d post this story about an amazing pioneering female photographer that history has forgot.

In my new book, an Historical Crime Thriller set in Vienna 1899, my protagonist, Leo Katz, is a photographer. Whilst researching photographers from that period, I was delighted to discover that women were emerging as professionals in this field.

One woman caught my attention, Dora Kallmus. She was extremely influential in changing the way people posed for their picture. Dora’s unique style helped to popularise the celebrity portrait, and her fashion photography broke all the rules. Yet, History has chosen to forget her.

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Born in 1881 to a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, Dora was clearly a headstrong young woman and knew what she wanted to do. She befriended the son of the painter Hans Makart, and whilst assisting him in his studio, she discovered the wonders of photography.

In 1905, she became the first woman allowed to study theory at the city’s Graphic Training Centre,  GraphischenLehr-und Versuchsanstalt, and in the same year was accepted as a member of the Association of Austrian Photographers. Two years later she finished an apprenticeship with Nicola Perscheid, where she learned her craft.

Although she was not allowed to do the technical training, because she was a woman, that did not stop her opening her own studio in Vienna in 1907. She brought a fellow student of Nicola Pesrcheid with her, Arthur Benda, who would remain her technical assistant throughout her early career.

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Her studio Atelier d’Ora, became a sensation, and along with Arthur Benda, Madame d’Ora’s shop was the place to go for the fashionable and cultural elite of Vienna. Her new approach to photographing a subject, natural, relaxed poses rather than the stiff, grim images people were used to, made her photographs sought after. The artist, Gustav Klimt and his muse Emilie Flöge, being some of her most famous clients.

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Dora’s Middle Class Jewish background aided her in attracting customers. Her father, Doctor Phillipp Kalmus, a respected lawyer, brought clients from the civil service, government, and the banking world. With such a notorious profile, Dora landed the job of photographing the coronation of Kaiser Karl, King of Hungary. Now she was in demand by royalty and members of the Imperial family who visited her studio to have their portrait taken.

But it was through her cousin, the acclaimed actress Rosa Bertens, that Dora broke into what was to become her trademark work. Photographing the rich and famous throughout the theatre, music, fashion and art worlds.

News of her avant-garde work spread, and customers flocked to her doors. Now everyone wanted to be photographed by Madame d’Ora, whose unorthodox compositions were the talk of the town. Attracting famous dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Josephine Baker, and, Mary Wigman. Writers such as Arthur Schnitzler, artists, Gustav Klimt, actors, Maurice Chevalier, musicians, Pablo Casals and the composer, Albern Berg.

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Her keen interest in fashion photography inspired her to change the way the industry presented their clothes. She created new ways to portray models, and her fresh ideas were soon snapped up by many lifestyle periodicals such as Die, Madame, and Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode.

Madame d’Ora became Coco Channels first choice to capture her new creations in all of their glory. All this when she was still under thirty years of age.

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In Part Two, I will focus on Dora’s later career and how she developed not only as a portrait photographer to the stars, but how the traumas of the second world war developed her career as a documentary photographer.
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If you would like to know more about my books, please visit my website: www.oddlybooks.com
To view some of my photography go to: 

The Inventor of Crime Scene Photography

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In my last post I talked about my Historical Crime Fiction novel and in particular, a pioneer in crime photography, Alphonse Bertillon. You can view it here:

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/the-man-behind-the-mug-shot/

Today I continue the story on how this man influenced the advance in Forensic Science.

Not only did Alphonse Bertillon invent the Mug Shot, but a variety of ways to interpret how a crime happened. From simple burglaries, to murder, he came up with methods of measuring the amount of force used in break-ins, known as the Dynamometer. He was also responsible for using ballistics and materials to preserve footprints as clues to how a crime was committed.

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Bertillon was quite a celebrity and even appeared in a few Sherlock Holmes stories, most notably, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, when the following dialogue between Dr James Mortimer and Holmes.

“I came to you, Mr. Holmes, because I recognized that I am myself an unpractical man and because I am suddenly confronted with a most serious and extraordinary problem. Recognizing, as I do, that you are the second highest expert in Europe–”

“Indeed, sir! May I inquire who has the honour to be the first?” asked Holmes with some asperity.

“To the man of precisely scientific mind the work of Monsieur Bertillon must always appeal strongly.”

Yet it is his ground breaking use of photography at crime scenes that is his lasting legacy to present day methodology employed by detectives in solving crimes.

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His use of taking a picture from above, was unique to crime procedures. Previously, an artist would draw the scene from their eye line, sketching the things that came in their limited range, but Bertillon gave the world a ‘god’s eye view’ showing the scene accurately and in more detail. Greatly improving the police’s chance of solving the case.

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He even used a special laboratory to take the Mug Shots, practice his precise methods and to process the ensuing prints.

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To view the actual photographs, Bertillon took of crime scenes, please go to my Pinterest page.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nikkimcdonagh56/arty-stuff-my-stories-including-glimmer-and-crow-b/

However, when Bertillon’s CSI photographs became known, they were thought of as unsavoury, even ghoulish since they showed the victim’s dead body. Yet these images gave detectives the necessary information to help them discover important clues such as body position, cause of death, wound entry, footprints, murder weapons, blood spattering and so on, that could easily be missed from an initial survey of the scene.

It is thanks to Alphonse Bertillon, that CSI has progressed from somewhat dubious facial measurements, to accurate fingerprinting, and his meticulous way of photographing a crime scene is still used today.

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Here is another small snippet from the first draft, I shall call The Leo Katz Mysteries for want of a better title:

Chapter Three

I confess to being somewhat squeamish. As a child I could not even bear to squash a fly. Miriam had no such qualms and would race about my bedchamber with a rolled up newspaper swatting anything that buzzed. ‘Nasty things that eat dung. You must kill them before they lay eggs in your ears.’

I believed her and before falling asleep would probe my lugs for signs of infestation. I am not sure how I would have reacted if I had discovered an emerging bluebottle in my cochlea. Perhaps something akin to the way I retched on witnessing Klaus probe the severed nasal cavity of Ira Weiss.

‘Stay with us, Leopold. I need your expertise on imaging. Are you going to faint?’

I gulped hard and backed away from my tripod. ‘No, not at all. It’s the smell of the body mingled with the chemicals you use, it is overwhelming.’

‘Perhaps Herr, I mean, Leopold, would care for some fresh air? It is an acquired scent. Shall I escort you to the corridor?’ Lucy wiped her hands on a towel that hung from a nail in the wall next to the half glassed door of the mortuary.

‘Thank you, but I will continue. I must endeavour to overcome my reticence at observing the dead.’

‘Ha! There’s my fellow. Solid and dependable. Well, compose yourself, my little friend and come closer. I need a shot of the entry wounds.’

With shaking hands I lifted my tripod and placed it close to Ira’s pale body. Lucy wiped the last remaining spots of blood from his chest, and joined Klaus by the cart laden with sharp knives and a variety of different sized saws. She did not flinch from the sight of the poor man’s shredded face. Leaning close to observe the raggedness of his wounds, she said, ‘Was he disfigured before or after death?’

My next post will continue the findings I have unearthed during the research for my new book. Watch out for Madame d’Ora!

For more information about my books, please visit my website:

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http://www.oddlybooks.com/

When Writing Is Hard

Over Christmas I broke my right wrist rather badly. Emergency surgery and a metal plate  later, I am unable to type with both hands. So, my writing has suffered a lot. I find it slow to type with my left hand and by the time I have written the word in my head, I’ve forgotten the rest of them. Yes, I tried dictation, but it’s not for me. I find my muse by staring at a blank page and letting the words fall from my fingertips.

Still, this glitch is giving me the time to do research for a new genre I wan to try out, psychological crime thriller. I’m rather enjoying discovering about how to manipulate people to get them to do your bidding for evil purposes. Also, I am editing and getting ideas together for more stories, so it’s not all doom and gloom. I just need to bide my time, let my wrist heal and get back to the job of writing when I’m better.

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Squid hand haiku

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Of finger cephalopod

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In the mean time, here is a short video and Haiku in honour of my injury.

Link to video:

https://youtu.be/A6M6_aUWvqs

If you want to know more about my work, go to my website: 

https://www.oddlybooks.com

Or visit my Amazon Author page:

Author.to/BooksonAmazon

Could this actually happen? Meet Political Dystopian author T.T. Michael

Today I would like to introduce T.T. Michael the author of  Fire War a Dystopian Political Thriller series. Set in the not so distant future, 2070’s, these books deal with terrorism, political intrigue, loyalty, ethics, freedom and so much more!

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So, take it away T.T. Michael

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Who are you and what do you do?

I am a finance manager for a Toyota dealer in Illinois. I am also the writer of the Fire War Trilogy. 3 books that use today’s issues but it is set in the not too distant future.

What is your book about?

Fire War shows a future that could very well happen if we let it. What would you give up for total security? In my books the USA, Canada, and Mexico join together to make the United Continental States of America or U.C.S.A. They shut down the borders and bring all troops back to let the rest of the world fend for themselves.

 Why did you choose to write your book?

I’ve heard so many people suggest we build a wall between USA and Mexico so I took it a little further than that. I wrote it because I wanted to show a “Be careful what you wish for.” Scenario.

Who or what was the inspiration behind it?

My inspiration is our world today. The people, the governments, and all the terrorist attacks lately.

What kind of research did you?

I didn’t need to do research because really this is 100% fiction. (I hope so anyway). I just watch the world and see what’s happening.

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

Time. I work a lot of hours sometimes as much as 60-70 hours a week and to find time to write one book was challenging enough but I wrote 3 inside one year. I was that passionate about this story!

What was the best part of writing your book?

I loved watching the story unfold. I started out with outlines but by the time I was done with the first chapters the story took on a life of its own and practically wrote itself.

What, if anything, have you learned from writing your book?

I learned a lot about people and what they think about current events. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they see this future as a real possibility and they’re scared!

Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?

Write what you love. Write it for you because if you write for an audience you’ll never find one. If you write what you think and what you love, you’ll always be successful.

Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?

I love the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games books. Those books created their own worlds that the main characters lived in. I would like to think that I did the same with my main character.

What are your future writing plans?

I am currently writing a TV treatment for the Fire War books. I’ve gotten interest from a producer in Hollywood that wants to make this a TV show and we are currently working together on putting that into motion.

Thank you T.T. Michael. If you want to know more about the author and his books please visit his website www.firewarbooks.com and/or go to the review sites listed below:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/tt-michael/fire-war/

https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/fire-war/

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/fire-war

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 You can purchase the Fire War trilogy below:

Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/Fire-War-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B015GDR6E8

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fire-war-t-t-michael/1122744006?ean=2940157847494

 

Audio Book:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Fire-War-Audiobook/B018ERWWHY/ref=a_search_c4_1_7_srTtl?qid=1470155401&sr=1-7