Muybridge's Motion Photography at Penn

1883 - 1886

For several years, notorious motion photographer Eadweard Muybridge extensively photographed University of Pennsylvania varsity baseball players while nude in order to both study the body in motion as well as the sport itself. Seen here is plate 275, titled "Baseball Batting."

"It was noted in [an 1886 student newspaper article] that 'all the prominent University athletes, men and women in the various operations of every-day life, and almost every representative animal in the Zoological Garden, have been caught by the camera in every conceivable posture and active motion.' But clearly, the images of athletes were the most appealing... '[T]he part most interesting to University men is the delineation of the athletic sports, foot-ball and base-ball, running, jumping, vaulting and wrestling" (Edelman).
Muybridge's images emphasized sporting activities as a way to best understand not just how the body moves, but how to photograph it in motion. As such, our capacity to capture photographs of movement today is owed significantly to his work within this institution.

Edelman, Rob. “Eadweard Muybridge and Baseball-in-Motion.Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, vol. 7, no. 2, Fall 2013. pp. 62-70.