Who took that picture ?


Manon Caillard

Hello everyone ! :)
I am a little bit confused. I don't know whether the pictures below were taken by Francis Browne or the Odell family...
Could you help me out on this ? :)

PS: These pictures come from internet and are NOT mine.

Couple on A deck

Picture credit

Titanic Universe
says the picture was taken by the Odell Family. This website and Titanic Photographs say the author of the photograph is Francis Browne.

Titanic at Queenstown

Picture Credit

Website claiming that the photograph above was taken by the Odells :
- Encyclopedia Titanica (not the exact same picture but a very similar one)

Websites claiming that the photograph above was taken by Browne :
- The Catholic Herald
- Antiques and Tea Cups
- Titanic Photographs

Sailor on duty

Picture credit

Encyclopedia Titanica and Titanic Universe claim that the picture above was taken by the Odells. Titanic Photographs says it was taken by Francis Browne.

New York and Oceanic 2
New York and Oceanic 1

1st picture credit
2nd picture credit

Now these are interesting !
Encyclopedia Titanica says that those pictures are the property of the Odells whilst Titanic Photographs claims that Francis Browne took them.

Thank you for your help !
Manon :)
Mark VII

Mark VII

Hello Manon,

Welcome aboard!

All photos were taken by Francis Browne - he was not a ‘Father’ yet - except for the last two.

Browne sent photo number 2 to the Odell family and it’s sometimes erroneously attributed to them.

Encyclopedia Titanica is right about the authorship of the last two photographs.
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Manon Caillard

Hello everyone !
I am back with new and interesting stuff !

Little reminder : hereunder is a very concise diagram from Association Française du Titanic which explains and parts in different stages the New York Incident.
The New York Incident diagram

In our study, we will focus on photographs depicting the stages 2 and 3.

Now, let’s begin !

So as I understood, the Odells took the following pictures of the New York Incident :
1 & 2.
New York and Oceanic

Pictures credits

We can deduce, according to the angle of the pictures, that the member of the Odell family who took these pictures was on the forward port side A deck.

We can suppose that the part of the 'nearly collision' which is shown in these pictures 1 and 2 (corresponding to stage 3) happened quite fast. Indeed, the only great differences between the first and second photographs are :
- a tug between the two ships, which is pushing the Titanic away from the New York (and venting out a lot of steam).
- the New York's position : she is closer to the Titanic in '2' than she is in '1'.
I assume the tugs were used to get alongside ships, so they were doing it rapidly. Thus, I believe the pictures above were taken within a short amount of time. In other words, I believe that the stage 2 of the New York Incident happened quite fast.

Now, on the same page of Encyclopedia Titanica, a third picture is claimed to has been taken by a member of the Odell family :
New York and Oceanic 3

Picture credit

This picture was also taken from the port side of the ship and is also depicting the stage 3. The Oceanic is on the left, the New York is on the right and we notice a lot of smoke coming from the left of the picture. Obviously, that smoke comes from the funnel of the tug we were just talking about (the one that came push the Titanic away from the New York on her port side). The stern of the New York seems closer to the Titanic's bow than in the first two pictures. Plus, we notice that cloud of steam, which indicates that the tug was already alongside the Titanic.

Therefore, we can establish the chronology in which those 3 pictures were taken : 1 - 2 - 3

But something puzzles me... We see that the angle at which the photograph ‘3’ was taken is not the same as the angle of the first two photographs. The picture above seems to have been taken from the Titanic’s bow rather than the A deck.

Well, you might think : “the picture 3 could have been taken from the forward A deck as well when the Titanic restarted her engines and passed by the New York, at the end of the incident (stage 4)”. I do not believe that that idea could work.

Here is a little reminder : the Titanic reversed her engines to prevent the New York’s stern from hitting hers. By reversing those, she pushed her away. The New York was then getting in front of the Titanic since the latter had moved backwards. Considering that the tug venting smoke was leveled with the bow of the Titanic (see picture 1 & 2), the photographer of picture 3 must have been at the very end of the Titanic’s bow, in order to see the smoke coming from the left of the picture without seeing the tug’s funnel. On top of that, when the Titanic would have passed by the New York at the end of the incident, the New York would have already been dragged around the dockbend so would no longer be in her picture 3’s position (see stage 4).

However, that angle enigma brings up an interesting question : If the Odells took that picture, it would mean that they found the time to go to the bow of the ship from the A deck before the New York's stern got in front of the Titanic's bow (so in a very short time, considering that this part of the incident happened quite fast).
My question is :

Is it really possible that the Odells took that picture ?
(this is what I am going to discuss below and what my ‘post’ will be about)​

If the author was somebody else, he/she was probably already on the bow, getting his camera ready, when the Odells took their 2nd picture. But we cannot see anybody standing on the bow in the pictures 1 and 2. After all, we cannot see the entire bow... Was he/she out of camera range ? However, it would be odd since we don't see any railings in the picture 3, which would probably mean that the photographer was close enough to them not to shot them.
Or perhaps it is Francis Browne who took it…

Since we are talking about him, let's talk about his pictures of the New York Incident :
Near collision

Picture credit

Here is a picture of the 2nd stage of the incident : the New York is being drawn towards the Titanic, just after her moorings broke apart. It was taken looking aft from the port side boat deck of the ship, by Francis Browne. This picture indicates that Browne, at the beginning of the incident, was on the port side Boat deck, between the two rows of lifeboats. Keep that in mind ;)

Now, here is another picture whose author is believed to be Francis Browne :
Tugs Neptune and Hector with Titanic

Picture credit

That picture was taken from the Titanic's forward starboard A deck, unlike the ones taken from the port side by the Odells. So, I believe its author could be Francis Browne. In this picture, we notice that the stern of the New York has got in front of the bow of the Titanic : the end of the 3rd stage of the incident is depicted.

Hence, let's recap the sequence in which all the pictures we have so far were taken : 4 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 5

Also, let’s recap who is believed to have taken those photographs :
- 4 : Browne
- 1 : Odell family
- 2 : Odell family
- 3 : Odell family
- 5 : Browne

Finally, let’s recap my doubts regarding the authors of these photographs :

- 4 : Browne (no doubt)
- 1 : Odell family (no doubt : Encyclopedia Titanica says so)
- 2 : Odell family (no doubt : Encyclopedia Titanica says so)
- 3 : Odell family ? (doubt : I know that Encyclopedia Titanic also said so. But the issue here is more about the time and angle of the picture : the possibility for them to having taken it)
- 5 : Browne (no doubt : it is conceivable that Browne took photographs 4 and 5 because they were respectively the first and last photographs of the series to be taken, which indicates that the timing between those two was sufficient to cross the ship from the port to the starboard side and go down from the Boat deck to the A deck. Indeed, picture 4 was taken during the 2nd stage of the incident whereas picture 5 was taken at the end of the 3rd stage).

Back to topic : it is interesting, now that we have a more 'completed' picture of the bow, to investigate the people who were on it in order to see if anyone had a camera (though this picture was taken moments after picture 3 was).

Hereunder is a close-up of 5 :
Close up

Picture credit

It is now clear, no one seems to carry a camera. The people we see are crew members. We can exclude this ‘third person’ idea !
Thus, who took picture 3 ? The Odells ? Francis Browne ?

The Odell family being on the forward port A deck, if they wanted to go to the bow of the ship, they had to go downstairs from the A deck to the B deck and from the B deck to the forward well deck. Then, they had to go upstairs from the forward well deck to the bow. However, if they wanted to be on the bow in time (before the New York’s stern was getting in front of the Titanic) they had to hurry. And the most efficient way to hurry is to take the shorter path possible.

So, hereunder is the shortest way that could have leaded the Odells, from their original position, to the bow of the ship :
Odells way 1

Picture credit

Note that this shortcut only worked if the following stairs were used (pointed in white) :
Stairs from THG

screenshot from a Titanic Honor and Glory's YouTube video

Above are shown the stairs from the A to B decks that the Odells could have used.
But here arises a problem : these stairs were for the crew use only ! (source )

In that case, the Odells, would have made their way to the bow by a more ‘casual’ way. And the closest passengers’ staircase available was the Grand Staircase. This would mean that they would have gone back up the A deck Promenade, entered the Grand Staircase’s hall, gone downstairs to the B Deck, gone out of the B deck Grand Staircase’s hall, walked down the B Deck Promenade, arrived on the forward end of that deck, gone downstairs to the forward well deck and finally gone upstairs to the bow. What a long maze ! Plus, this ‘shortcut’ was no longer a shortcut if they had to take the Grand Staircase…. I doubt they could have made it in time to the bow and taken picture 3.

The last hypothesis left would be the ‘Browne hypothesis’.
But this one also leads us to an impasse.
He would have had, with no doubt, enough time to go from the boat deck to the bow by the Grand Staircase between the photographs of pictures 4 and 3 (4 = 2nd stage of the incident, 3 = 3rd stage of the incident). But then, he would have got from the very front bow’s port side to the starboard bow end of the A deck while the New York’s stern was getting in front of the Titanic’s bow to snap picture 5 in time. What a runner ! We know for certain that picture 5 was taken by Browne so he had to be there (starboard bow end of the A deck) then. Hence, this “trip” seems indeed difficult to accomplish (considering the time he had to make it between pictures 3 and 5), especially since the New York’s stern was getting before the Titanic very quickly...

Now, let’s take a closer look at those much talked about stairs between the B and forward well decks :
Well deck

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As you surely see, there was a gate upstairs. Interesting. It is even more interesting as we know that the passengers on the ship were separated into classes. Indeed, we see a notice next to the gate. We also recognize this notice in the 1997’s Titanic movie :

Picture credit

Above is a screenshot of a deleted scene in which Rose is making her way to the forward well deck by these stairs. In the movie, the notice is on the gate and not next to the gate. But the place where the notice was doesn’t have a great importance in our study. What counts is what the notice is saying : “3rd class passengers are not allowed beyond this point.”

According to this website, "First class passengers and third class passengers were not allowed to mix at all". Hence, if the third-class passengers were prevented from going into first class areas, we can suppose that it was made not to “bother” the first-class passengers. Let’s not forget that a real classes segregation was taking place at the time… Considering that Browne and the Odell family were travelling in first class, did they really want to go to the forward well deck and the bow of the ship (third class areas) ? If the answer was “no”, they could not have taken that most-vaunted picture 3… It is not even a question of wanting something: they surely wouldn’t go there because of the “reputation” they could have earned afterwards. Indeed, a first-class passenger entering a third-class area was probably considered as impolite or inappropriate. Which complicates even more our (already complicated !) puzzle.

On top of that crew stairs issue is now added that forward well deck accessibility issue !

How would you explain that Encyclopedia Titanica says that the Odells are the authors of picture ‘3’, considering all the issues they would have encountered shooting it ?

Let me know about what you think of all this !
I am very eager to read your replies : that topic interests me so much !

Thank you for having read my post !
I hope you can help me !

Manon :)
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