Here’s one of the many passport photographs from sessions where Nita would play to camera. I think she was trying out poses and practising as an actor. She must be about thirteen here, circa 1927.
It’s easy to forget, as a person who works behind a camera (usually) that if you propose to be in front of the camera you had better know what the camera does to you. At least then you can choose how to act. All the minutiae and the, is this working? Is it too much. Better to underplay than to over do it. But here, Nita is performing and acting to camera in a way that fully acknowledges the camera’s presence. Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford would do that to loveable and great effect. And these were the stars of the day.
This photograph has a remarkable quality to it as an object. Much better than modern passport images this has a broad tonal range and a metallic, silver quality to it. Its quite beautiful and its miniature size adds to this.