For the past several years, many of our customers have bben asking about whether there was a book which featured Mr. Ebbets' photographs and biography...well, we are happy to say in a few months the answer will be YES! (see below)

Identification of photographer behind iconic American image leads to online campaign to tell his story and publish lost photos.

New York, NY, February 7, 2015 - Millions of people the world over have admired the 1932 image of 11 steel workers sharing lunch as they balance precariously on a construction girder 800 feet above the Manhattan skyline, yet few know the name of the man behind the lens: Charlie Ebbets. His daughter, Tami Ebbets Hahn and writer/director Matthew Miele are about to change all that.

"The Photographer: Charles C. Ebbets, The Untold Story of an Iconic American Photographer" is a book which will tell the history and mystery behind why one of the world's most famous photographs remained identified as "anonymous" for almost 70 years. It will share spirited stories of adventure and daring of a man who was a master behind the lens. Finally, it will re-introduce to the public, the work of this pioneering photographer that was almost tragically lost for all time.

Charlie Ebbets passed away in 1978. For nearly 30 years following his death, the bits and pieces that made up his photographic legacy from a 50+ year career sat undisturbed in boxes hidden in the recesses of his widow's home. Scattered among the countless prints and negatives was the detritus of a life: clippings, correspondence, work orders, receipts-even his snakebite kit and a Colt revolver from his various trips from the Everglades backcountry to the jungles of South America. Stitched together, they told the story of an outsize personality and artistic mind with an insatiable appetite for derring-do. A pioneering photographer, outdoorsman, and adventurer who explored unmapped regions, raced cars, piloted airplanes, walked on wings, wrestled professionally, hunted big game and befriended men from Presidents to Indian chiefs. 

The website for the book can be found at


New York, NY, January 4, 2012: In addition to the official Ebbets biography now in development entitled "The Photographer: Charles C. Ebbets. The Untold Story of an Iconic American Photographer", we are currently working in collaboration with producer Christopher Walker & Director Matthew Miele to film a documentary entitled "Skywalkers" which tells the story behind the historic Men on a Beam image. Set in the early 1930s, just after the stock market crash of 1929, it is told through the eyes of Charlie Ebbets as a young photographer who has just come from the rural south to the big city of New York. It reveals for the first time, the fascinating tales of triumph and tragedy that unfolded in post-depression America as this country rebuilt itself back to greatness from the brink of financial ruin. It follows the lives of men, from titans of industry to immigrant steelworkers, who risked everything- from their fortunes, to their very lives, to rebuild a nation.

To read more about the film "Skywalkers" you may go to http://www.SkywalkersThe


New York, NY, September 12, 2012

The following is a response sent to the New York Times regarding their recent "news" story concerning authorship of the famous Men on a Beam photo:

Dear Mr. Estrin,
Your LENS blog posted an entry on September 20th, 2012 entitled "Revisiting a Lunch at Perilous Heights" by Jesse Newman. This article was done based on an interview of Mr. Ken Johnston of Corbis Corporation. I am writing this letter to let you know that I believe it was done with misrepresentation on the part of Mr. Johnson, in that he did not present your reporter with all of the facts known to him concerning this topic. In fact, the article was featured based on the 80th anniversary of the photograph's creation, but the content Mr. Johnston presented was not based upon any new facts and is entirely misleading. Mr. Johnston did not provide the members of the news media all of the information in his possession and he did not advise them all reasons behind his earlier “professional” opinion as a photo historian that the evidence of the Ebbets family, which included receipts for payment from the Rockefeller Center on Mr. Ebbets own letterhead, photographic negatives and prints of his work, personal and professional letters, corresponding newspaper photographs, handwriting samples, and a statement by Ebbets' widow. All of these materials were reviewed by Corbis experts as well as independent professional investigators and when combined with a review of his total body of work, conclusively established Charles C. Ebbets as the person who took the famous photo.

In several related articles and blog entries now being circulated by Johnston and Corbis on the internet, he refers to evidence “presented by the family” in 2001 that led to him crediting Ebbets. It was, in fact, Johnston who asked to come to the home of Ebbets’ daughter, in order to review all of the documentation that supported Ebbets taking the picture. In 2003, Johnston personally reviewed other photos taken during Ebbets’ work at Rockefeller Center, and he reviewed an intact, original family scrapbook from the period that included not only an original news article containing the famous image, but also many other images taken while Ebbets was working for the Rockefellers promoting the construction of the Center. At the time the photo was taken it is clearly documented and unquestioned that Ebbets was working as the photographic director for the Rockefeller Center. Mr. Johnston article also suggests that this photo was a staged promotion for Rockefeller Center. This is entirely accurate, as Ebbets was hired to do promotional work to draw attention to the mammoth project and help boost leases of the new office space. Staging eye-catching photos was his job, and according to multiple letters of recommendation, newspaper stories, and magazine features covering his work, he was one of the best around at it. Among the evidence presented to Johnson was a letter of recommendation from Mr. Merle Crowell who was the Director of Public Relations for the Rockefeller Center in 1932 commending Ebbets for his work as the official photographer for the construction’s promotional campaign. Corbis was also shown the original glass negative of Ebbets onan adjacent beam where the photo was taken holding his camera, and originals of other images from his body of which are consistent with an a “fingerprint” of Ebbets style and the genius behind the famous photograph.

As a result of Johnston’s conclusions, in October of 2003, Corbis capitalized on these facts by having members of the Ebbets family travel to New York for the unveiling of the fact that Ebbets was the famous photographer and utilized the family's presence and cooperation to showcase their celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bettmann Archives collection. The reason he now states to news media for his change of mind is the “recent discovery” of other photographers being present at the time. These statements are misleading in that this is not a recent discovery and the conclusions he draws from this fact are not based upon common sense or investigative science.

In addition, Johnston lead Corbis to take Ebbets credit off the photos based upon his erroneous opinion that this famous photo, as well as a “sister” image, were likely taken by other photographers because they were published in competing newspapers. In the evidence collected showing that Ebbets was the photographer of this famous work there is another photograph shot at the same time depicting a lone worker sitting on the beam in silhouette as evening falls that Ebbets supplied for publication in the New York Times that week. As evidenced by the Rockefeller Center's own archive scrapbooks (which Mr. Johnston was privy to), it was also shown to have been published in at least 3 other competing newspapers around the world in the 2 weeks after Ebbets took it. Mr. Johnston had already seen that photo in Mr. Ebbets' own scrapbook when he reviewed the proof of his authorship in 2003, and the fact that is was published in multiple papers clearly proves this was not unusual and did not mean that there had to be another photographer responsible. 

As a photo historian, Johnston knows that it was not at all unusual for a photographer to sell his work to multiple outlets, especially during the post-depression days when any sale of a photo meant food on the table.The media should be aware of the fact that Corbis and Johnston had open lines of communication with the Ebbets family that were available at all times. Johnston never contacted the family at any time before this sudden declaration or a change of his opinion. He never asked if there was any further evidence to refute his own forced conclusions. If he had done any further investigation he would have learned that the Ebbets family has proof that Ebbets not only worked for the Rockefeller Center at the time, but he also worked for the Associated Press, Acme, and United Press wire services, and freelanced for The New York Times, The NY Herald Tribune, The New York Sun, The Miami Daily News, The Augusta Chronicle, The Miami Herald, and others.  

According to the story now being circulated, Johnston is stating that the decision he lead Corbis to make in removing Charles C. Ebbets as the photographer who is credited with the photograph is the fact that there were two other photographers present at Rockefeller Center at the time. This is not new information, but is something that has been known to Johnston and the Ebbets family for quite some time. Johnston knew when he bagan his investigation that other photographers working in the city could have taken the photo and it was this fact that caused him to come to the home of Ebbets’ daughter to review the entire body of Ebbets work and all supporting documentation of his authorship. He immediately discerned that the work of Charles C. Ebbets was different from any of the other photographers that “may” have taken the photo. In fact, in an interview given to the the Wilmington Star-News in 2003, after reviewing all of the evidence held by the family, Mr. Johnson stated, "As far as I'm concerned, he's the photographer".

He now suggests that someone else "may" have been responsible. One of the other photographers identified who may have been at Rockefeller Center around the time this photo was taken was an 18 year old cub reporter who was still learning the trade (who likely knew Ebbets from his own work at the AP offices in NY). The other man was a photographer who worked in New York throughout 1940s and went on to have a very notable career as a portrait photographer in California whose work is still being managed by his son. There is supposition they may have been on site that day as guests of Ebbets as he worked as the Photographic Director for the shoot, but there is no evidence whatsoever that either of these men took the famous photo. In the past 15 years, during its worldwide circulation, neither they, nor any of their family members, nor any corporate interests have ever come forward to claim any association with the photograph. In fact, all of the evidence has always pointed to Charles C. Ebbets as the author. Mr. Johnston neglected to tell any of the news agencies that were provided this recent “news” release that Corbis’ own private investigators from the prestigious firm of Marksmen Investigations, a world leader in intellectual property claim investigations and used by 75 of the Fortune 500 companies, investigated everyone ever associated with the image, including the estates of the Hamilton Wright family and the Lewis Hine foundation, and found no concrete evidence of anyone but Ebbets as the author.

This “news release” given by Mr. Johnson was provided as an “80th Anniversary of the Photo” promotional campaign by Corbis, which at the same time peppered several blogs with interviews surrounding their change of opinion on the matter, and even changed the name of the image from "Lunch Atop A Skyscraper" to “Lunch in the Sky” on its website. Changing the name doesn’t change the truth. It is our opinion that this issue is not about any new discovery of other photographers being present, but instead it is about the money that has been generated by the iconic photograph and the fact that it will continue to generate a vast sum of money for Corbis, provid­­ed they can continue to claim uncontested copyright. It is their number one selling photograph of all time, the most widely circulated stock photo in the world, and by their own admission, has generated millions of dollars in revenue since it's introduction in 1996. Interestingly, we later learned that during the time Corbis was changing their stated opinion on Ebbets' authorship and changing the name of the famous photo, they were also in  negotiations with a Chinese company, Visual China Group, to sell all of their iconic photo holdings (including this photo) that they once promised to preserve for all time as a part of our irreplaceable American photographic history. 

During the time since we first approached Corbis with proof of Ebbets' authorship, the Ebbets family has neither asked for, nor received a penny of that revenue.  It is also important that the media understand that the Ebbets family has recently severed ties with Corbis based on our opinion that they did not fulfill contractual promises they made to promote Mr. Ebbets' other work. We are also in the process of completing a documentary and a comprehensive biography of Ebbets' life that will include information about Corbis' role in the photographs history and explore questions about it's journey into the Corbis collection and their claims of copyright to it. We find it highly suspect that Corbis, who has known all of the above information for many years, should choose now to introduce these doubts about Mr. Ebbets' authorship. It should also be noted that no news agency or information service of any kind contacted the Ebbets family at any time prior to releasing the Johnson interviews or news release. The work of Charles C. Ebbets, inclusive of the Men on a Beam photograph and the photo of Ebbets the day he took the photograph is easily accessible through their widely-viewed internet site,

One has to ask, why didn’t anyone at Corbis seek to clarify these "new" discoveries at any time in the past several years, and why didn't anyone contact the Ebbets family for comment or clarification? Clearly, the public and your readers have been done a great disservice by being presented only one side of the story by Mr. Johnston. To base an article that can affect a man's entire reputation on one person's opinion (Johnston), especially a person who is in the employ of a company that would clearly benefit from the photo once again being considered "anonymous", and to do so without benefit of all of the facts is certainly not in keeping with the tradition of the New York Times for unbiased reporting. We invite you to contact us at any time to present the rest of the facts behind this story.


Tami Ebbets Hahn, President

Ebbets Photo-Graphics


Bill Gates’ Corbis Images Sold to Visual China Group

Corbis Images, the photo agency owned by Bill Gates’ Corbis Group, is to be sold to Chinese new media company, Visual China Group.

Unity Glory, a subsidiary of Shenzhen-listed Visual China, will own and manage the images and motion archives, names and trademarks associated with the Corbis Images, Corbis Motion and Veer licensing brands.

Other Corbis businesses, notably the Corbis Entertainment and Branded Entertainment Network, were not part of the sale. They will be rebranded in the coming months and focus on entertainment advertising.

Corbis Entertainment will continue to provide rights representation for celebrities and iconic personalities, including: Albert Einstein, Steve McQueen, Marvin Gaye, Bruce Lee, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Sophia Loren and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Deal terms were not disclosed. Corbis was represented by Allen & Company LLC in the sale of Corbis Images.

In a separate, but related, deal Visual China signed a deal with Getty Images, that will enable Getty customers to access the Corbis Images library. Previously, Visual China has partnered with Getty Images for over a decade to market and distribute Getty Images’ content exclusively in China.

After a transition period, Getty Images will exclusively offer Corbis creative stills, Corbis Motion content and Corbis archival and documentary content to its global customer base outside of China.

Established in 2000, Visual China owns and manages China’s largest premium digital visual content platform, and provides still imagery, videos, music, multimedia and digital content to approximately 15,000 advertisers and media outlets in China. It also operates, providing premium entertainment content and integrated marketing solutions to media agencies, advertisers, film-makers, producers and celebrities. “The transaction strengthens our dominant position in China’s image industry, enhances our core competence in the global high-end image market, and marks a significant milestone on our journey of globalization,” said Amy Jun Liang, CEO of Visual China, in a statement.

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