back to blog

From the Earth to the Moon: Vintage NASA Photographs

Slide 1

Buzz Aldrin, First self-portrait in space, Gemini 12, November 1966. All photographs courtesy Bloomsbury London

Slide 2

James McDivitt, First US Spacewalk, Ed White’s EVA over New Mexico, Gemini 4, 3 June 1965

Slide 3

Edgar Mitchell, Alan Shepard and the American flag, Apollo 14, February 1971

Slide 4

William Anders, First Earthrise seen by human eyes, Apollo 8, December 1968

Slide 5

Walter Cunningham, Florida Peninsula looking East, Apollo 7, October 1968

Slide 6

Clyde Holliday, The first photograph from space, October 24, 1946

Slide 7

Buzz Aldrin, The only clear photograph of Neil Armstrong on the Moon, Apollo 11, July 1969

Slide 8

Harrison Schmitt, Portrait of astronaut Eugene Cernan, explorer of another world, Apollo 17, December 1972

Slide 9

Pete Conrad, Alan Bean with the reflection of the photographer in his visor, EVA 2, Apollo 12 November 1969

Slide 10

Walter Schirra, On-board portrait of astronaut Walter Cunningham, Apollo 7, October 1968

By Paula Kupfer

Since the start of space exploration, cameras have been an elemental carry-on for extraterrestrial voyages, on both manned and unmanned spacecraft. According to Hasselblad, at least twelve Electronic Data Cameras of their manufacture rest on the surface on the moon, taken into space by astronauts and later shed for their weight. The film they contained was brought back to Earth for developing, but despite the wondrous quality of the photographs, many were kept for decades at NASA’s archives, available only to specialized researchers. Many remained heretofore unpublished. Now a wealth of photographic gems from the early decades of space explorations is on view at Bloomsbury London in From the Earth to the Moon: Vintage NASA Photographs, where the over six hundred vintage prints will be auctioned on February 26. The expansive lot includes photographs spanning the Mercury, Gemini, and Lunar Orbiter as well as the famed Apollo missions, and features a vintage gelatin-silver print of the “first photograph from space” from 24 October 1946, taken by a 35-mm camera developed by Clyde Holliday and fitted on the 13th V-2 missile launched from the New Mexico desert. Vintage color prints of astronauts floating in space on EVA (extravehicular activity) from the Gemini 11 and 12 voyages are particularly stunning, as are the collages of lunar craters, mosaics of black-and-white photographs arranged into one “panoramic” view. As Sarah Wheeler, head of photographs at Bloombury Auctions, said, “these photographs are more than merely documentary, many are simply sublime.”

Paula Kupfer is managing editor of Aperture magazine.

Sign up for Aperture's weekly newsletter: