[Hooping.org's Editor Philo Hagen finds the future in the past.]
by Philo Hagen
When we think of modern day hooping, many of us are quick to point out that the circles of the 21st century have little to do with the hula hoop fad of the 1950s. After all, the hoops of today are typically larger, heavier, adult-sized. Anyone can spin it up if they have the right sized hoop for them. Every now and then, however, I find something from the 1950s that lets me know that maybe we’re not so different after all. My case in point are the photographs of J. R. Eyerman.
J.R. Eyerman was something of a photographic genius. In 1952, his training as an engineer enabled him to advance several photographic techniques including perfecting an electric eye that triggered a series of cameras photographing an atomic bomb test at Yucca Flat, Nevada. He also devised a camera that enabled explorer Otis Barton to take pictures at 3,600 feet below the surface of the sea. His other innovations involved a robot camera that the Air Force attached to its early rocket the Aerobee-Hi in 1957, as well as the speeding up of color film to photograph the aurora borealis. As a photographer and photojournalist, Eyerman was on staff at Life Magazine from 1942 to 1961. Always thinking and innovating, when he was given the assignment to do a hula hoop photo shoot for Life, it’s no surprise that he would be put a dynamic spin on it as well.
Using multiple exposure technology, Eyerman was able to capture some truly mind blowing hula hoop photographs for Life Magazine back in 1958, the likes of which had not been seen before and would not be seen again for decades. So maybe the hoops of today aren’t that close to the hula hoops of the 1950′s. Maybe Eyerman was just a man who could see into the future through the lens of a camera. While he remains most famous for some of his other work, like his iconic image of an audience enjoying a 3D movie, Eyerman’s hula hoop photos were, and still are, truly astonishing. Eyerman’s work also appeared in Time, National Geographic and other publications. He died in 1985.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003.