Advertising Educational Foundation
Abstract

This Advertising in the Archives article presents details about the John G. Zimmerman Archive, which is a private collection located on the Monterey Peninsula in Pacific Grove, California, that documents the life and work of photojournalist and advertising photographer John G. Zimmerman. The key topics covered in this Archives article include information about John G. Zimmerman and his career, the role of photography in advertising, and what his private collection reveals about the understudied history of the craft and business of advertising photography.

Keywords

advertising, archives, business, cameras, Chrysler, collections, history, magazines, material culture, photography, photojournalism, sports

Advertising in the Archives articles provide information about advertising archives in the United States or elsewhere in the world, including university, corporate, institutional, and personal archives.1 The goal is to provide context about archives as well as how they can be used to better understand advertising's place in society, culture, history, and the economy. This issue covers the private collection of the John G. Zimmerman Archive in Pacific Grove, California. The editors thank Linda Zimmerman and Darryl Zimmerman for inviting the journal to visit their collections, for speaking about their father's and family's work, and for providing many of the illustrations found in this article.

Fig 1. Two black and white portraits of photographer John G. Zimmerman holding a camera at different ages (1958 and 1979).
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Fig 1.

Two black and white portraits of photographer John G. Zimmerman holding a camera at different ages (1958 and 1979).2

From the earliest days of modern advertising in the late nineteenth century, advertising has become increasingly visual in nature. In the early twentieth century, with advances in camera and printing technologies, photography took off in ads in mass-circulation magazines and newspapers throughout the United States and around the world. Seeing photographic images in ads became the norm for most print advertising after World War II. Unfortunately, not much is known about many of the photographers whose work made it into the advertisements that have filled magazines, newspapers, and other promotional materials over the last 100 years.

Located in Pacific Grove, California, the John G. Zimmerman Archive helps fill the gap in scholarship on photographers' contributions to the advertising industry. This article details the career of award-winning photographer John G. Zimmerman and his important contributions to the advertising business. It also features materials contained within this private collection that provide insights into how advertising photography worked within the industry. The archive gives opportunities to learn the stories behind the lens of one of the advertising industry's most prominent and sought after photographers. In presenting Zimmerman's story and his archive, it is hoped that more scholarship on advertising photographers will emerge.3

About John G. Zimmerman

John G. Zimmerman was an award-winning photographer for many of America's most famous magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Life, Ebony, and Time. He is especially known for his sports photography, which immersed viewers in the action and excitement of professional and amateur competitions around the world. John did not get into photography with the intention of working within the advertising business, but as many photographers' careers go, there are often unexpected paths along their professional journeys.

Zimmerman's career as a photographer began when he was a boy. John L. Zimmerman, his father, was a gaffer (chief electrician) for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and piqued John G.'s interest in photography by giving him a camera. In junior high, John G. joined a photography club and spent many afternoons developing film with friends in their kitchens. While attending the John C. Fremont High School in Los Angeles, he took a three-year photography course taught by Hollywood cinematographer Clarence A. Bach, founder of the first photojournalism program in the United States.4 Central to Bach's teaching philosophy was simulating what it was like to be a newspaper photographer. Students had to be prepared to cover any assignment they were given at a moment's notice.

Within Zimmerman's archive is his high school portfolio showcasing various photographic techniques and styles from assignments that ultimately fed into his success as a professional photographer, including being able to work with celebrities, high profile athletes, and other prominent cultural and political figures. Zimmerman was also influenced by Bach's encouragement of graduates to mentor and guide other photographers starting out in their careers; something Zimmerman did throughout his life, even in the hypercompetitive world of professional photography.

Fig 2. Pages from Zimmerman's high school portfolio show his early talent in photographing prominent people in action, which would feed into his later success as a professional photographer. Photographed here are singer Nat King Cole on the left and singer Bing Crosby on the right. Zimmerman developed 11" × 14" prints that he sold to the singers for $1.50 each (equivalent to about $24 in 2022).
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Fig 2.

Pages from Zimmerman's high school portfolio show his early talent in photographing prominent people in action, which would feed into his later success as a professional photographer. Photographed here are singer Nat King Cole on the left and singer Bing Crosby on the right. Zimmerman developed 11" × 14" prints that he sold to the singers for $1.50 each (equivalent to about $24 in 2022).

Out of high school, Zimmerman became a photographer for the US Navy before landing a job as a staff photographer with Time magazine in Washington, DC. Showcasing his skill for improvising, one of Zimmerman's big breaks came in November 1950 when he was the first photographer on the scene to capture the aftermath of two Puerto Rican nationalists attempting to assassinate President Harry Truman. His photos were published in both Time and Life magazines.

Fig 3. Zimmerman captured the first images of Puerto Rican nationalists attempting to assassinate President Harry Truman on November 1, 1950, in Washington, DC. These photographs appeared in a three-page spread in Life magazine on November 13, 1950. The eight shots establish the scene at the building and show people on the ground being arrested, and Truman himself (on the far right).
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Fig 3.

Zimmerman captured the first images of Puerto Rican nationalists attempting to assassinate President Harry Truman on November 1, 1950, in Washington, DC. These photographs appeared in a three-page spread in Life magazine on November 13, 1950. The eight shots establish the scene at the building and show people on the ground being arrested, and Truman himself (on the far right).5

From 1952 to 1955, Zimmerman freelanced for Ebony magazine documenting the lives of African Americans in the Midwest and Jim Crow South. Although this work is not as well known as his sports photography, it was an important moment in his career where he focused on photojournalistic work that documented the lived experience of all Americans, including the opening of the first Black supermarket in Detroit, boxing legend Joe Louis, and North Carolina sharecropper Matt Ingram's fight to defend himself from accusations of assaulting a White woman while looking at her from about 70 feet away.6 In Crossing the Line: Arthur Ashe at the 1968 US Open, a biography of Arthur Ashe, 100 of Zimmerman's photos from the breakthrough win at the US Open illustrate the tennis player's achievement in the racially charged year of 1968.

Fig 4. A photograph of the first Black supermarket in Detroit, published in Ebony magazine in September 1955. The interior of the store from on high shows six to seven aisles in the background, and women shoppers with carts and some jarred goods for sale in the foreground. In the middle distance on the left are checkout lanes with clerks and customers.
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Fig 4.

A photograph of the first Black supermarket in Detroit, published in Ebony magazine in September 1955.7

Fig 5. John G. Zimmerman's hallmark skill was adapting cameras and camera set ups to create images that would be impossible for the naked eye to see. In this 1955 image published in Life, Zimmerman made it look like Detroit's Old Mariner's Church was moving at top speed through downtown Detroit. In reality, the move took four weeks to complete. The page from Life is mostly the photograph with copy on the lower quarter of the layout. The tall buildings downtown appear streaked and out of focus, imitating speed. In the foreground is a two-story church with arched windows, supported underneath on some sort of structure for the move.
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Fig 5.

John G. Zimmerman's hallmark skill was adapting cameras and camera set ups to create images that would be impossible for the naked eye to see. In this 1955 image published in Life, Zimmerman made it look like Detroit's Old Mariner's Church was moving at top speed through downtown Detroit. In reality, the move took four weeks to complete.8

Zimmerman is well known for his sports photography. His ability to innovatively use a camera to capture movement caught the attention of Sports Illustrated photo editor Gerald Astor in 1956, who hired him to be one of the magazine's first staff photographers. During his time at Sports Illustrated between 1956 and 1963, Zimmerman created many iconic sports photographs with his ability to uniquely place cameras and lights. He also pioneered the use of remote-controlled cameras, motor-driven camera sequences, and double shutter designs.

Fig 6. Zimmerman's success in sports photography was due to his ability to experiment with new technologies and ways of configuring and placing cameras, such as this 1961 image of Wilt Chamberlain dunking a basketball. As Sports Illustrated photographer Walter Iooss Jr. recalled, "It was the first time a photojournalist had placed a camera above the rim of a basket. It was like looking at something from another planet. It had never been done before. No one had seen the game from there."
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Fig 6.

Zimmerman's success in sports photography was due to his ability to experiment with new technologies and ways of configuring and placing cameras, such as this 1961 image of Wilt Chamberlain dunking a basketball. As Sports Illustrated photographer Walter Iooss Jr. recalled, "It was the first time a photojournalist had placed a camera above the rim of a basket. It was like looking at something from another planet. It had never been done before. No one had seen the game from there."9

Zimmerman's skill in sports photography led to an extensive travel schedule throughout his tenure at Sports Illustrated. On one important flight between New York and Philadelphia he met his future wife Delores Miter, who was a flight attendant for TWA. Delores would become Zimmerman's business partner and managed all his company's finances and helped Zimmerman book his work. John and Delores had three children—Darryl, Linda, and Greg—who would also play important roles in the family's photography business.

In 1963, Zimmerman left Sports Illustrated to work for the Saturday Evening Post in order to gain a wider understanding of photography and photojournalism. In his two years at the Post, he covered trends in popular culture at the time, including the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964.

Fig 7. Between 1963 and 1965, Zimmerman worked for the Saturday Evening Post where he covered the zeitgeist of popular culture. This is Zimmerman's photograph of the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The dark outlines of cameramen and large cameras are left and right, while center stage is a crisp set of arrows with the band performing amid them.
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Fig 7.

Between 1963 and 1965, Zimmerman worked for the Saturday Evening Post where he covered the zeitgeist of popular culture. This is Zimmerman's photograph of the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.10

Zimmerman shifted gears again after his work with the Post. Because of his technical expertise and his ability to create dynamic, emotive photographs, major brands such as Marlboro, Ford, Exxon, GE, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola sought him out. He had done commercial advertising work throughout the 1960s, but it became a significant focus for him after he moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1972.

Up until his retirement in 1991, Zimmerman also applied his talents elsewhere, including architectural photography for popular publications such as American Home and Time Life Books. He also continued to cover sports. Throughout his career, he photographed ten Olympic Games and over 100 Sports Illustrated covers, including seven of the magazine's popular swimsuit issues. Zimmerman's vibrant and varied career reveals why he is considered among the most influential magazine photographers of his era.

Fig 8. A sampling of John G. Zimmerman's photographs featured on major magazine covers is found in the main viewing room of the Zimmerman Archive. A gallery of 19 covers are hung under the slanted lines of the roof in a high-ceilinged area.
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Fig 8.

A sampling of John G. Zimmerman's photographs featured on major magazine covers is found in the main viewing room of the Zimmerman Archive.

Fig 9. This humorous cartoon sketch of Zimmerman as Superman by Campbell-Mithun Art Director Cy DeCosse was made in 1965 when the photographer shot a series of national print and television ads for Hamm's beer. The blue and red outfit has a Z on the chest, and "Superman's" arms are loaded with equipment for the job, as well as a case of Hamm's.
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Fig 9.

This humorous cartoon sketch of Zimmerman as Superman by Campbell-Mithun Art Director Cy DeCosse was made in 1965 when the photographer shot a series of national print and television ads for Hamm's beer.

The John G. Zimmerman Archive

John G. Zimmerman's professional papers and materials are in a privately held archive located in Pacific Grove, California. Zimmerman's daughter Linda is the director of the archive. She also leads the management of the licensing, printing, and exhibition of Zimmerman's work.

A wealth of materials is available in the archive that document and showcase Zimmerman's work and business over the years.

Zimmerman was known for his technical creativity. Rather than being limited by what a standard camera set-up could do, he, like an engineer, would find a way to modify cameras and how they could be used to construct a particular photographic effect. The archive documents Zimmerman's technical skill by preserving some of his cameras, camera cases, and unpublished photographic test shots.

Fig 10. Three of Zimmerman's equipment cases. The archive also displays photographs of Zimmerman and his family. In this photograph, Zimmerman is shown with a camera at work (upper right) near a 1957 photograph of his wife Delores in her TWA uniform (upper left).
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Fig 10.

Three of Zimmerman's equipment cases. The archive also displays photographs of Zimmerman and his family. In this photograph, Zimmerman is shown with a camera at work (upper right) near a 1957 photograph of his wife Delores in her TWA uniform (upper left).

Fig 11. The archive has two of Zimmerman's custom Hulcher cameras. He used the Hulcher to create the special effects in a 1969 Carnation Instant Breakfast ad for the Erwin Wasey agency featuring baseball player Pete Rose. The vintage camera is displayed next to the black and white ad.
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Fig 11.

The archive has two of Zimmerman's custom Hulcher cameras. He used the Hulcher to create the special effects in a 1969 Carnation Instant Breakfast ad for the Erwin Wasey agency featuring baseball player Pete Rose.

Fig 12. The archive includes many production shots revealing how Zimmerman made his photographs. Above are two images of Zimmerman setting up his Hulcher camera to take photographs of Pete Rose and four film strips showing unpublished takes. Zimmerman frequently used his children and their friends in test shots before going on location.
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Fig 12.

The archive includes many production shots revealing how Zimmerman made his photographs. Above are two images of Zimmerman setting up his Hulcher camera to take photographs of Pete Rose and four film strips showing unpublished takes. Zimmerman frequently used his children and their friends in test shots before going on location.

The archive also contains documentation of Zimmerman's creative process, including brainstorming notes, test photographs, advertisement mock-ups and storyboards, and the final published ads.

Fig 13. In 1959, Zimmerman used this sheet of stationery from the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia to jot down ideas for an ad for the Chrysler 300G. Underneath his creative notes include rental car information. The notes are in a numbered list, cursive handwriting, and some items are scratched out or retraced.
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Fig 13.

In 1959, Zimmerman used this sheet of stationery from the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia to jot down ideas for an ad for the Chrysler 300G. Underneath his creative notes include rental car information.

Fig 14. In 1959, Zimmerman began making test shots of his wife Delores driving a Chrysler 300F for a Chrysler 300G print ad campaign that would appear in national magazines in 1961. The grille of the car is coming straight toward the viewer on a curved road with two people visible inside. It is clear there is a woman driving.
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Fig 14.

In 1959, Zimmerman began making test shots of his wife Delores driving a Chrysler 300F for a Chrysler 300G print ad campaign that would appear in national magazines in 1961.

Fig 15. An unpublished photograph from the Chrysler 300G ad campaign, taken at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina in 1960. A white car is at a slight angle in the foreground with a long drive drawing the eye up to the enormous, decorative home in the distance.
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Fig 15.

An unpublished photograph from the Chrysler 300G ad campaign, taken at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina in 1960.

Fig 16. This is one of several published Chrysler 300G print ads featuring Zimmerman's photography. The photo shows a dark car from mostly overhead on hard pack sand on a beach. The headline of the copy reads "Sand Blaster." This image required taking an aerial shot with specialized equipment.
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Fig 16.

This is one of several published Chrysler 300G print ads featuring Zimmerman's photography. The photo shows a dark car from mostly overhead on hard pack sand on a beach. The headline of the copy reads "Sand Blaster." This image required taking an aerial shot with specialized equipment.

Fig 17. The archive has a collection of automobile "tear sheet" pages from various magazines that show what kinds of ads the photographer was looking at. Above is a tear sheet that shows a 1960 print ad not taken by Zimmerman. The color photo highlights a yellow car with a chrome grille parked on a driveway for a house still under construction. The family of four stands just outside the far door as if having just exited the vehicle. The headline reads "The car for the time of your life!"
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Fig 17.

The archive has a collection of automobile "tear sheet" pages from various magazines that show what kinds of ads the photographer was looking at. Above is a tear sheet that shows a 1960 print ad not taken by Zimmerman.

Fig 18. This is a 1961 Chrysler 300G ad featuring Zimmerman's photography. The dynamic image puts the viewer in the middle of the road in front of the oncoming 300G. Zimmerman's meticulous pre-shoot testing and creative adaptations of where and how cameras could be used fueled his success. On the right of the low angled shot is the tire of the vehicle the photographer must be traveling in to capture the Chrysler. It takes up about one quarter of the layout and has a column of white copy on it. In the rest of the view is a white car driving parallel on the other side of the road. It is unclear if the car being photographed is following the car with the point of view, or passing it, adding to drama. The headline reads "One-Man Brand."
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Fig 18.

This is a 1961 Chrysler 300G ad featuring Zimmerman's photography. The dynamic image puts the viewer in the middle of the road in front of the oncoming 300G. Zimmerman's meticulous pre-shoot testing and creative adaptations of where and how cameras could be used fueled his success.

Fig 19. This 1987 mock-up for a Ford Bronco II ad shows the creative brief Zimmerman had to follow for the J. Walter Thompson Agency and longtime client Ford Motor Company. The two-page storyboard has four columns of text broken up by sketches of some selling points. The facing page shows the spare tire and tailgate view of a bronco through the arm of a woman in the foreground whose bracletted arm is akimbo on her hip. The headline is “All dressed up and everywhere to go.”
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Fig 19.

This 1987 mock-up for a Ford Bronco II ad shows the creative brief Zimmerman had to follow for the J. Walter Thompson Agency and longtime client Ford Motor Company.

Fig 20. This is the actual Ford Bronco II ad that was published. By comparing the mock-up with the actual published ad, one can see how the original vision for the ad changed. In this version, the columns have similar sketches but the front and side of the car is on display with a woman leaning against the front. She's parked in a field with grazing horses and wearing jeans and boots. The headline now reads "Ford Bronco II. You can wear it anywhere."
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Fig 20.

This is the actual Ford Bronco II ad that was published. By comparing the mock-up with the actual published ad, one can see how the original vision for the ad changed.

The archive also holds materials showing how Zimmerman's photojournalistic work led to his being hired for advertising jobs, especially his work related to sports and action photography. For example, based on his capturing high-speed downhill skiers for a 1961 Sports Illustrated cover story, he was hired for a Head ski ad in 1967. Included in the archive are production stills documenting how Zimmerman did his technical work to create particular visual effects, such as suspending a skier in his New York studio and projecting existing photographs to create a background full of movement.

Fig 21. This December 4, 1961 Sports Illustrated cover of some of the world's best skiers in action drew the attention of readers, including ski equipment manufacturer Head. The cover photo point-of-view is a skier chased by some others down a mogul filled slope. The sun is a starburst in the center, the back ends of the skis spray snow upward partially obscuring one of the group, and the most visible person slaloms closer, legs shooting to the right.
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Fig 21.

This December 4, 1961 Sports Illustrated cover of some of the world's best skiers in action drew the attention of readers, including ski equipment manufacturer Head.

Fig 22. This 1967 production still shows Zimmerman working with a model to create the effect of skiing without actually going to the mountains. In addition to using real snow on her boots, Zimmerman suspended her from the ceiling to simulate skiing on the slopes. He also put a white screen behind the model so that he could later add one of his own ski action photos as background to the studio shot. Well before the time of digital photo manipulation, such methods were seen as ingenious by photographers and advertisers alike.
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Fig 22.

This 1967 production still shows Zimmerman working with a model to create the effect of skiing without actually going to the mountains. In addition to using real snow on her boots, Zimmerman suspended her from the ceiling to simulate skiing on the slopes. He also put a white screen behind the model so that he could later add one of his own ski action photos as background to the studio shot. Well before the time of digital photo manipulation, such methods were seen as ingenious by photographers and advertisers alike.

Fig 23. This 1967 ad for Head skis combines Zimmerman's studio work with his previous ski action photography for Sports Illustrated. The headline reads, "Anything you can do, this new Head can do better." Similar to the action in Figure 21, this photo puts the front of the skis in the story with snow flying out from under them and pursuants just behind on the same slope. Only the ankles, calves, and skis of the main skier are visible.
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Fig 23.

This 1967 ad for Head skis combines Zimmerman's studio work with his previous ski action photography for Sports Illustrated. The headline reads, "Anything you can do, this new Head can do better."

Fig 24. Zimmerman's photos of ski hang glider JeffJobe above Snowbird were originally taken in 1972 for a Sports Illustrated cover story on new ski resorts. They were later licensed for two different advertisements, a Swedish lozenge (right) and for Top Value (left). The Swedish ad on the right shows the global market for Zimmerman's advertising work.
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Fig 24.

Zimmerman's photos of ski hang glider JeffJobe above Snowbird were originally taken in 1972 for a Sports Illustrated cover story on new ski resorts. They were later licensed for two different advertisements, a Swedish lozenge (right) and for Top Value (left). The Swedish ad on the right shows the global market for Zimmerman's advertising work.

Another example of Zimmerman's photojournalistic work inspiring commercial advertisements comes from 1965 when he captured astronauts training in zero gravity conditions for a Saturday Evening Post cover story. Zimmerman recreated similar images for Flying A gasoline, featuring a gas station attendant floating in space with the company's brand mascot Axelrod the Basset Hound.

Fig 25. Zimmerman took the photograph for this May 22, 1965 cover of the Saturday Evening Post, which provided the inspiration for a Flying A gasoline advertisement. A large white machine tosses a suited-up astronaut nearly upside-down in a test chamber.
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Fig 25.

Zimmerman took the photograph for this May 22, 1965 cover of the Saturday Evening Post, which provided the inspiration for a Flying A gasoline advertisement.

Fig 26. Zimmerman (right) and his assistant float weightless in a parabolic chamber while photographing NASA astronauts training for Project Gemini in 1965. The men are wearing dark coveralls and have their limbs in weightless positions. The chamber is dark so the spotlight on them helps give the appearance they are in outer space.
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Fig 26.

Zimmerman (right) and his assistant float weightless in a parabolic chamber while photographing NASA astronauts training for Project Gemini in 1965.

Fig 27. Zimmerman's creative concept for this 1965 Flying A gasoline ad was inspired by his photojournalistic work on astronauts for the Saturday Evening Post. A uniformed service station attendant holds the hose of a gas pump as he and a rocket capsule float above the earth. The brand's Basset Hound mascot also floats near the pump, his long ears flying upward.
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Fig 27.

Zimmerman's creative concept for this 1965 Flying A gasoline ad was inspired by his photojournalistic work on astronauts for the Saturday Evening Post.

Fig 28. The archive includes a printer's proof of the double page Flying A gasoline ad as well as an alternate single page version of the ad. The collection also has material objects such as an Axelrod Flying A Basset Hound coin bank from the mid-1960s.
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Fig 28.

The archive includes a printer's proof of the double page Flying A gasoline ad as well as an alternate single page version of the ad. The collection also has material objects such as an Axelrod Flying A Basset Hound coin bank from the mid-1960s.

The archive also includes many unpublished photographs that were not selected by ad agencies for print publication. Being able to compare the published images with the outtakes provides insights into the creative process as well as the various decisions that went into producing ads.

Fig 29. Two 1963 experimental photographs for Van Heusen were never published. Here, a male model soars emphatically through the air, above the New York skyline. The Zimmerman Archive contains numerous unpublished advertising images. In both photographs, a male model is dressed in a shirt, tie, and dark pants. His leaps are so high that the tall New York skyline only reaches up to his feet.
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Fig 29.

Two 1963 experimental photographs for Van Heusen were never published. Here, a male model soars emphatically through the air, above the New York skyline. The Zimmerman Archive contains numerous unpublished advertising images.

Fig 30. These 1964 shots for Marlboro were never published. At that time, Marlboro was heavily marketed toward men and these images reveal that the Leo Burnett Agency was considering another approach to Marlboro to appeal to women for client Phillip Morris. A silhouette of a man lighting a woman's cigarette shows the colors of a sunset over a mountain range. The couple is dressed in cowboy hats and clothes. The next picture is sunnier with an angular vision of a spur, boot, and leg framing a single gloved hand with a lit cigarette.
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Fig 30.

These 1964 shots for Marlboro were never published. At that time, Marlboro was heavily marketed toward men and these images reveal that the Leo Burnett Agency was considering another approach to Marlboro to appeal to women for client Phillip Morris.

Fig 31. These were two 1964 Marlboro ads featuring Zimmerman's photos. Although women appeared in the test shots, these published ads do not feature any women. In the foreground, a cowboy hat dusted with snow obscures the face of a man lighting his smoke with a large flame bent to the wind. The background shows snow covered trees and the headline reads "Come to where the flavor is." The next ad has similar action, but the cowboy is atop a horse with a yellow sun setting behind leafless winter trees. The headline reads "Come to Marlboro Country."
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Fig 31.

These were two 1964 Marlboro ads featuring Zimmerman's photos. Although women appeared in the test shots, these published ads do not feature any women.

The Zimmerman archive has material objects incorporating some of Zimmerman's photographic work. As a tribute to Rod Carew when the baseball player was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, General Mills' Wheaties used some of Zimmerman's 1977 photographs on its product packaging.

Fig 32. One of Zimmerman's photographs of baseball player Rod Carew was featured on the front of a 1991 Wheaties box. The original photographs appeared in a 1977 cover story for Time. The flattened box and magazine lie next to each other on a white surface. On each, Carew is in uniform holding a wooden bat.
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Fig 32.

One of Zimmerman's photographs of baseball player Rod Carew was featured on the front of a 1991 Wheaties box. The original photographs appeared in a 1977 cover story for Time.

Fig 33. Zimmerman's photographs of baseball player Rod Carew were featured on the back of a 1991 Wheaties box. The photographs originally appeared in a 1977 issue of Time. The back of the flattened box has a tribute to Carew and three photos.
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Fig 33.

Zimmerman's photographs of baseball player Rod Carew were featured on the back of a 1991 Wheaties box. The photographs originally appeared in a 1977 issue of Time.

The Zimmerman archive also houses audiovisual materials. In addition to still photographs, the archive has digitized a number of television ads Zimmerman shot around 1965 for clients such as Hamm's and Coca-Cola. The archive also includes audio recordings of Zimmerman, as well as his wife Delores reflecting on her work with her husband to run the photography business.

Zimmerman worked with the Campbell-Mithun advertising agency to shoot the non-animated film sequences for this 1965 Hamm's commercial showing divers plunging into a lake in the Land of Sky Blue Waters.
Video 1.

Zimmerman worked with the Campbell-Mithun advertising agency to shoot the non-animated film sequences for this 1965 Hamm's commercial showing divers plunging into a lake in the Land of Sky Blue Waters.

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The archive includes rare documentation about the operation of the Zimmerman family's photography business. Over the years, Delores produced meticulous records that she carefully archived. For each project, she kept a binder with detailed information about proposals, contracts, invoices, and other important correspondence. Such materials were often submitted to clients for billing. Delores also kept documentation related to a landmark court case in which Zimmerman sought—and won—compensation from ad agency Young & Rubicam that lost over 200 original 35 mm color transparencies, including some of Zimmerman's most iconic images. Delores sometimes kept notes about work that was published, providing insights into the creative process and mistakes made by advertisers and publishers.

Fig 34. One of Delores' meticulously documented invoice binders. This booklet contains detailed information about John's work for the J. Walter Thompson Agency on their Ford Cars and Trucks account in 1987. The vintage binder has many tabs and holds information that was clearly typed on a ribbon typewriter.
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Fig 34.

One of Delores' meticulously documented invoice binders. This booklet contains detailed information about John's work for the J. Walter Thompson Agency on their Ford Cars and Trucks account in 1987. The vintage binder has many tabs and holds information that was clearly typed on a ribbon typewriter.

Fig 35. This trade press magazine documents a court case awarding Zimmerman compensation from an ad agency that lost his photographic work. The archive also includes John and Delores Zimmerman's depositions for the court case. A copy of Photo District News has three columns of copy on the cover and one photo in still life style. The first column reports on the case with the headline "Jury Awards $338,662 For Lost Slides."
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Fig 35.

This trade press magazine documents a court case awarding Zimmerman compensation from an ad agency that lost his photographic work. The archive also includes John and Delores Zimmerman's depositions for the court case.

Fig 36. Delores makes note of an embarrassing situation in which one of John's photographs of a General Motors executive was mistakenly licensed for use in a Chrysler advertisement. The top of the ad is a four by four grid of people in various work settings. The headline reads, "Hundreds of foreign service people are enjoying great savings on cars from Chrysler." Someone has circled and starred the lower left photo and written an explanation in ink underneath that this embarrassing situation and mistaken identity would not have happened with a proper model release.
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Fig 36.

Delores makes note of an embarrassing situation in which one of John's photographs of a General Motors executive was mistakenly licensed for use in a Chrysler advertisement.

John and Delores worked together to keep their business growing. In order to drum up business, the Zimmermans had to regularly update large portfolios of sample work as well as promotional pages in prominent photography business directories. The Zimmerman archive has several portfolios and business directories from over the years.

Fig 37. The mocked up and published versions of Zimmerman's publicity pages for a prominent photography directory for advertisers, The Black Book. Both versions sit side by side on a white table. The finished uses color photography, and the mock up has the same layout sketched in black and white.
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Fig 37.

The mocked up and published versions of Zimmerman's publicity pages for a prominent photography directory for advertisers, The Black Book.

Fig 38. A large, handled, soft sided, zippered portfolio displays Zimmerman's photos. There are shots of athletes in the plastic sleeve of the left page, and a page about cars in the sleeve of the right page.
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Fig 38.

A large, handled, soft sided, zippered portfolio displays Zimmerman's photos. There are shots of athletes in the plastic sleeve of the left page, and a page about cars in the sleeve of the right page.

From his early training, Zimmerman was dedicated to helping burgeoning photographers establish their footing in the field. In addition to preserving correspondence with other photographers, seasoned and up-and-coming alike, the archive includes some of Zimmerman's published writing on photography, including a copy of, and the photographer's hand-written notes for, his bestselling 1975 book Photographing Sports: Capturing the Excitement of People in Action (with fellow Life and Sports Illustrated photographer Mark Kauffman). This book is seen as the essential guide for action and sports photography. It provides a history of Zimmerman's career, his business partnership with his wife, and the technical details behind some of his most famous and innovative images.

Fig 39. Zimmerman and fellow photographers Mark Kauffman and Neil Leifer's classic how-to manual on action photography. The black cover of the book has four sports action shots under the title.
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Fig 39.

Zimmerman and fellow photographers Mark Kauffman and Neil Leifer's classic how-to manual on action photography.

The Need for Research on Advertising Photography

Photography has played a significant role in the advertising business. However, more research is needed on the work of photographers such as John G. Zimmerman who made advertisements come to life through their innovation and creativity. It is hoped that this much-needed addition to our understanding of advertising history will come through sharing information about archives like the John G. Zimmerman Archive. Although the Zimmerman Archive is private, researchers are encouraged to peruse the many resources available on its website in addition to contacting the archive's director Linda Zimmerman.11

Fig 40. The John G. Zimmerman Archive's website contains a wealth of materials helpful for researchers interested in Zimmerman's life and career. The screenshot shows tabs of content such as Biography, Blog, Fine Art, etc., and has an embedded YouTube video to watch.
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Fig 40.

The John G. Zimmerman Archive's website contains a wealth of materials helpful for researchers interested in Zimmerman's life and career.

Fig 41. The John G. Zimmerman Archive also has a gallery of sample photographic work. Researchers can contact the archive with questions, including about any work not featured on the website, which can be accessed through an internal database of materials. The screenshot shows the archive organized into thumbnails of images to sort or inspect more closely.
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Fig 41.

The John G. Zimmerman Archive also has a gallery of sample photographic work. Researchers can contact the archive with questions, including about any work not featured on the website, which can be accessed through an internal database of materials.

Edward Timke

Edward Timke, PhD, is an affiliated scholar with the Department of Cultural Anthropology and an instructor of advertising, design, and creativity courses for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative at Duke University. He is also Adjunct Professorial Lecturer for the School of International Service and Visiting Scholar in the Department of History at American University. He is Associate Editor of Advertising & Society Quarterly and a regular contributor to ADText. Timke's specialties include advertising and media history, international advertising and media, and media theory and research methods. His work focuses on the role of advertising and media in shaping how different cultures understand and imagine each other. Timke received a Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the Circulating American Magazines Project (www.circulatingamericanmagazines.org). He has also received numerous awards and nominations recognizing his excellence in teaching and mentoring of student research.

Linda Zimmerman

Linda Zimmerman, PhD, is Director of the John G. Zimmerman Archive. She received a joint doctorate in art and humanities from Stanford in 1997, along with a master's degree from Stanford's Documentary Film Program in 1994. She has worked in New York City as an assistant producer on arts and culture documentaries and as program director for the American Friends of the British Museum, creating lectures and events to promote the British Museum in the US. In 2006, she moved to California to work full-time on her father's photography archive, and for over a decade has been organizing, researching, and developing publications and international exhibitions to promote her father's legacy, along with her two brothers and mother.

Recommended Resources

"John G. Zimmerman." American Photography Archives Group. https://www.apag.us/john-g-zimmerman/.
John G. Zimmerman Archive YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC23odSdzaKruySSYQgeWs8w.
John G. Zimmerman Archive. "Stories Behind the Lens: Advertising Photography in the Mad Men Era." YouTube video. February 10, 2022. https://youtu.be/Ggwns6lfIv0.
Crawford, Amy. "These Photos Offer a Glimpse into the Racial Politics of the 1950s South." Smithsonian Magazine, April 19, 2017. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/these-photos-offer-glimpse-1950s--south-180962929/.
De Winde, Arne, Oliver Kohns, Francis Hodgson, Daniel Pena, and John G. Zimmerman. America in Black & White: Selected Photographs of John G. Zimmerman. Lanham, MD: Cannibal Publishing, 2017.
Editors of Life. The Great LIFE Photographers. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010.
Editors of Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated: The Hockey Book. New York: Sports Illustrated, 2010.
Mantle, Mickey. "American in Black and White: Photographs by John G. Zimmerman." Sports Illustrated, May 9, 2017. https://www.si.com/sports-illustrated/2017/05/09/america-black-and-white-john-g-zimmerman#gid=ci02553a7a50022580&Pid=mickey-mantle.
Van Speybroeck, Arne De Winde, and John G. Zimmerman. Crossing the Line: Arthur Ashe at the 1968 US Open. Lanham, MD: Cannibal Publishing, 2018.
Zimmerman, John, and Mark Kauffman. Photographic Sports: Capturing the Excitement of People in Action. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Alskog, 1975.

Footnotes

1. Earlier Advertising in the Archives articles cover the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/698749), Procter & Gamble's Corporate Heritage and Archives Center (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/734579), the Wisconsin Historical Society (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/745994), and a guide to advertising and marketing archives around the world (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/752630).

2. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs and videos are provided as a courtesy of the John G. Zimmerman Archive. The image on the left was taken by Tony Triolo. The image on the right was taken by Craig Sjodin.

3. We do not mean to suggest that there is no scholarship on advertising photographers or advertising photography. However, much research on the history of the advertising business has focused on various advertising executives, especially creative directors, so this article calls for more research on creative contributors to advertising, including photographers. Sample research on advertising photography and photographers includes, but is not limited to, the following: Elspeth H. Brown, "Rationalizing Consumption: Lejaren à Hiller and the Origins of American Advertising Photography, 1913–1924," Enterprise and Society 1, no. 4 (2000): 715–38, https://doi.org/10.1093/es/1.4.715; Patricia Johnston, Real Fantasies: Edward Steichen's Advertising Photography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Janis Teruggi Page, "Myth and Photography in Advertising: A Semiotic Analysis," Visual Communication Quarterly 13, no. 2 (2006): 90–109, https://doi.org/10.1207/s15551407vcq1302_3; Roy Pinney, "A History of Creative Advertising Photography," Design 64, no. 2 (1962): 83–85, https://doi.org/10.1080/00119253.1962.10545417; and Matthew Soar, "The Advertising Photography of Richard Avedon and Sebastião Salgado," in Image Ethics in the Digital Age, ed. Larry P. Gross, John Stuart Kay, and Jay Ruby (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 269–294.

4. The intensive program was famous for launching the careers of at least six Life magazine photographers.

5. For a close-up of these images, see "Puerto Rico Revolt Endangers Truman," Life, November 13, 1950, 25–27, which is available through Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=8ksEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA25#v=twopage&q&f=true. Please note that all photographs were taken by John G. Zimmerman except the image on the far right of President Harry Truman, which was taken by the Associated Press. See more photographer information on page 23 of the November 13, 1950 issue of Life.

6. For Zimmerman's images of Joe Louis and Matt Ingram, see Karen Strike, "John G. Zimmerman: America in Black and White," Flashbak, December 12, 2019, https://flashbak.com/john-g-zimmerman-racistamerica-in-black-and-white-370899/. More images from Zimmerman's Ebony work are found on the John G. Zimmerman Archive website (https://www.johngzimmerman.com/gallery-category/ebony-1952-1955/) and the published collection America in Black and White: Selected Photographs of John G. Zimmerman (Hannibal, 2017). Time provides a review of this published collection: https://time.com/4658857/america-black-and-white-zimmerman/.

7. "Supermarket, 1953," Ebony 1952–1955, John G. Zimmerman Archive, https://www.johngzimmerman.com/gallery-category/ebony-1952-1955/page/3/.

8. For additional images, see "Old Church on the Move," Life, April 25, 1955, 83, which is available through Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=elYEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA83&dq=Zimmerman%20old%20Mariners%27%20chu%20rch&pg=PA83#v=onepage&q&f=false

9. https://www.johngzimmerman.com/gallery-category/basketball/page/2/. More of Zimmerman's sports photography is featured on the Zimmerman Archive website: https://www.johngzimmerman.com/gallery-category/sports/.

10. "Beatles on Ed Sullivan, 1964," 1950s–1970s, John G. Zimmerman Archive, http://www.johngzimmerman.com/gallery-category/1950s-1970s/.

11. The archive's website is www.johngzimmerman.com. Linda Zimmerman can be contacted at archive.zimmerman@gmail.com.

Additional Information

ISSN
2475-1790
Launched on MUSE
2022-04-27
Open Access
Yes
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