I didn’t expect to see so many photography references in last night’s Mad Men, but given that the show takes place in 1968, when magazines like LIFE were thriving, photography was increasingly a necessary medium for capturing time.
It was cool to see all the vintage camera’s in last night’s episode, starting with Don Draper’s wife Megan snapping shots of him on the couple’s Hawaiian vacation with a compact point-and-shoot.
Leica got a lot of airtime last night—not only did Don mention that his agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) was representing the camera company, but we found out they have a closet full of M2s, one of which Don gives to his neighbor, Dr. Rosen.
And throughout the episode, the whole SCDP office was overrun by a camera crew, shooting portraits of the partners and staff members, explained as “portraits for publicity.” When the photographer is asked if the shots will be in color or black and white, he says he “wishes” they were color, after seeing Joan’s ravishing red hair and purple dress.
Joan's light test. Courtesy AMC
The company photographer sets up for Don's portrait with a hand-held Rollei.
Don's natural light portrait.
So what was with all the photography in last night’s episode? Was it a nod to the changing technology of the late 1960s, or simply a fun way to show antique photo equipment and the way camera bodies have changed? Whatever the reason, the photo editors at Rangefinder loved the references, and we hope to see more in the current season.