Beginning Young

Beginning Young

Looking at the April, 1916 issue of Popular Photography magazine is Robert Kraft, (1914-1977) (1.) Known as “Bobbie” to his family, he was the youngest son of American amateur photographer Leo Kraft, (1885-1927) and grew up to be a public school teacher living in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

This photograph was reproduced as a halftone in the July, 1919 issue of American Photography, along with detailed technical background and criticism which follows:



A really successful genre picture is the result of a combination of effort by both the photographer and the sitter. Co-operation is needed, for the efforts of one alone will not avail. The sitter must be able to pose naturally, without any evidence of self consciousness, and the photographer must have sympathy, tact and ability to carry out his part of the work successfully. Photographic skill alone is not sufficient; tact and sympathy also are essential, and this is especially the case in dealing with children. In Mr. Kraft’s remarkably successful picture, “Beginning Young,” all these qualifications are strikingly evident. His young sitter is delightfully natural and appears to be absorbed in his occupation, and for this result much credit is due to the photographer as well as to the child. The technical part of the picture is entirely satisfactory. The plain background and the fine tones throughout the whole picture are especially pleasing. The tendency when using flashlight is always towards harsh contrasts, chalky highlights and black shadows, and this must be guarded against. It can be overcome by using sufficient flashpowder and by developing the negative in a dilute developer, avoiding overdevelopment so that the highlights will not be too dense. If the negative is to be used for enlarging this is especially necessary. The entire absence of harshness, the wealth of gradation and half tone in Mr. Kraft’s picture show that these important points are properly considered. Made in Ohio, 3A folding pocket Kodak, Velostigmat lens of 6½ inches’ focal length, used at f:16, Victor flashpowder, Polychrome plate, developed with pyro-soda, enlargement on P. M. C. Bromide.  (2.)

The following appears on the back of the mount verso:

No 3
Spring 1916
Beginning Young”


If the photograph were indeed taken in the Spring of 1916, it would appear his recorded birth date of Dec. 12, 1914 from the following source (3.) would be inaccurate, based on the observation Robert looks no more than six months old in this photograph.

1. Robert Frank Kraft. Born: St. Louis, MO: Dec. 12, 1914. Died: March, 1977. The 1940 U.S. Census states he was a public school teacher.
2. Beginning Young: in: American Photography: Boston: July, 1919: pp. 417-18
3. “United States Social Security Death Index,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 Feb 2014), Robert Kraft, March 1977; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).

Beginning Young

Image Dimensions24.0 x 19.2 cm tipped

Support Dimensionsdetail: 42.6 x 33.0 cm | 25.7 x 20.0 cm