Award-winning author Lois Duncan is the daughter of photographer Joseph Janney Steinmetz. She is the author of 50 books, ranging from children’s picture books to adult novels, but she is best known for her young adult suspense novels. Seven of Duncan’s books have been adapted into films. Recently, Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, optioned Duncan’s Down a Dark Hall.
In this series of blog posts, Duncan gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of some of her father’s most famous photographs.
Florida Memory: Joseph Janney Steinmetz was a world-renowned commercial photographer whose images appeared in such publications as The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Time, Holiday, Collier’s, and Town and Country.
Steinmetz lived in Sarasota, Florida. He fell in love with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus which wintered there and photographed performers for 20 years. This photograph of clown Emmett Kelly in a bubble bath is one of the most famous of his circus images. How did it come to be?
Duncan: Joe was good friends with many of the Ringling Brothers Circus performers. He took this photo of Emmett Kelly in the bathtub as a favor to Kelly, who wanted the image for his Christmas card.
Joe’s wife, Lois Foley Steinmetz, was crouched down out of sight behind the chair that held Kelly’s clothing, with an egg beater in her hand. After every shot Joe took, Lois would leap out of hiding, use the egg beater to increase the foam in the tub, and conceal herself once again.