Artist Biographies : Flora, Bob :
The early days of news photography were much different than today,
when Robert Flora worked at the UPI office in Los Angeles. It was all
done against the clock and the Associated Press. You rushed
to develop your film, pick a frame, and make a print. You needed only
one good print, and while it dried you wrote a caption on an adhesive
label that attached to the print, which you transmitted on the
company's leased phone network. It took 7 minutes per picture.
UPI was sold by Scripps in 1982 to two unknown guys from Nashville.
Those owners, desparate for cash, in 1984 sold the UPI photo library -
11,5 million pictures - to Bettman Archive, for a million dollars. UPI
had been making more than a million dollars a year reselling the
pictures for commercial and editorial use. Bill Gates bought the
Bettman collection - UPI's stuff as well as Bettman's 4 million
accumulated images - for a reported $6 million (according to
When Robert died and the family inherited the boxes full of photographs, the idea of donating them to some charity came up, but nothing was done. Although the family did not have publishing rights to the photograph, they became accepted as vintage artifacts in the “food chain” of photographic images.
It was in 2001 that the Getty Museum learned of the archive and bought 40 prints for their permanent collection.
All of a sudden this collection in the attic took on a new perspective. Not created as fine art prints, as those of Ansel Adams, and Stieglitz, they became artifacts in the history of photography.
Click her to see photographs