At the Turn of the Road

At the Turn of the Road

Sidney Love Alderman: 1860-1931


Sidney Love Alderman was born May 12, 1860, in Greensboro, and spent most of his life in that city. He was the son of Professor and Mrs. W. F. Alderman of Greensboro College. He received his education in the public schools of Greensboro. (Source: excerpt: ‪Greensboro Lodge No. 76, A.F. & A.M.‬: ‪A Historical Survey of One of North Carolina’s Outstanding Lodges‬, 1951)

Alderman began making pictures in his late teens in the 1870s. Over time he became a prominent and respected photographer in North Carolina and eventually opened the Alderman company in Greensboro c. 1898. The business later moved to High Point as a result of the town’s burgeoning furniture industry. Sidney’s grandson, Sid Gayle, joined the company in 1948 and pioneered new ways to photograph furniture, growing the business even more. The Alderman Company continues to operate to this day in High Point. (Source: State Archives of NC Photos online resource via Facebook)

Sidney L. Alderman (b.1860 d.1931), a pioneer of furniture photography, founded Alderman Studios in 1898 and was its president until 1931. One day, around the turn of the century, while watching a traveling furniture salesman struggle with a mule-drawn wagon filled with sample chairs and case goods, it occurred to him that if he photographed the pieces, the salesman would then be able to sell with little more than a saddlebag full of photographs.

Alderman’s formal education in photography consisted of one year as an understudy to Bachrach, the renowned photographer in New York City, in 1880-1881. In 1892, he opened a portrait studio in Greensboro, NC, which he later moved to High Point, to be nearer the furniture center.

Alderman Studios became one of the largest commercial still photography studios in the world, encompassing some 250,000 square feet. They pioneered 17 staging areas and a collection of accessories and architectural elements worthy of a museum. Individual windows, walls, fireplaces, and stairways were combined, torn down, and combined again to create unique settings for the perfect shots.

Sidney Alderman’s use of photography in selling furniture simplified and advanced the sale and marketing of furniture. The studio’s growth greatly contributed to the emergence of the home furnishing and textile industries in the Southeast.

(Source: Inductee Profile: Sidney L. Alderman: from the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. online resource)

At the Turn of the Road

Image Dimensions18.6 x 23.6 cm tipped along upper margin

Support Dimensions27.8 x 35.4 cm