Page 45 - June2017

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location were treated as social visits
as well as photography sessions. Far
from the hurried, tightly scheduled
appointments of today, the couple
might spend two or three hours
visiting with the clients and having
refreshments, all the while quietly
studying the faces before the session.
This approach also helped to relax
the subjects and resulted in beautiful
portraits that were treasured by
When the couple opened their first
studio, exposures could take up to a
minute and the subject’s head required
support from behind to maintain
the position. Later in their career,
exposures took only about five or six
seconds, and must have seemed magically swift to customers.
Sessions were scheduled between 9am and 4pm to take advantage of the
light provided by the skylight. In later years, this could be supplemented
with artificial light if necessary, though it was not the photographer’s
Although Paul officially ran the business, it was operated as a superb
partnership between him and his wife. Della posed the subjects and
adjusted the lighting, and then Paul took the photos and handled the
chemicals and developing.
Della would then retouch the negatives with a soft carbon pencil and
magnifying glass, taking out imperfections. She also performed any artistic
finishes and watercolor enhancements. Della took her own photos as well,
and her work was exhibited all over the world.
The Naschkes rarely had trouble with clients paying for their sessions, but
they developed a unique, quiet way to handle those
that did not.
When enlarged portraits were ready to be picked
up, they were hung in a front window facing the
main street until they were paid for and picked up.
Occasionally, if someone neglected to pay for their
photos even after gentle reminders, the couple would
hang those photos upside down. This, of course, would
cause visitors to ask why they were hung that way.
Fairly soon afterward, the owners would come in to
settle accounts to stop gossip about themselves in the
At the time of the Nachske’s residence in La Marque,
the town had no churches, and so residents would
travel to services on the island. Naschke, Maco
Stewart, and Robert Sealy decided to build an
interdenominational church for La Marque locals, but
Paul passed away before it was completed. His wife
told the remaining proponents that if they would name
it Paul’s Union Church for St. Paul and in honor of her
husband, she would complete it, and she did. The
church, which stands about a block from their home,
opened that next year.
• Naschke sold many society photos to the
Galveston Daily News
Galveston Tribune
, as well as many uncredited photos of local events.
• After Della passed away in the 1930s, their son Bertram made the former studio his home. It has since been sold to another family.
• A charming and informative interview with Bertram, recorded by Galveston photographer Robert Mihovil when he was a student in 1979,
is in the archives at the Galveston and Texas History Center at the Rosenberg Library.
• Paul Naschke’s cameras are in the collection of the Galveston County Museum, and will be on display when the museum reopens for
their 45
anniversary in the winter of 2018.
• Naschke’s childhood home at 1423 Church Street was completely restored in 2014 and featured on a Galveston Historical Foundation
Home Tour the following year.
Portrait by Naschke, c. 1896
Portrait by Naschke, c. 1897
Naschke La Marque home, c. 1929
Naschke La Marque home present day
Color images by Kathleen Maca
JUNE 2017 |