Scholars of FSA photography consistently acknowledge the preparation of shooting scripts as a notable facet of FSA operations. These scripts were preparatory sketches, usually drawn up by photographers before they went into the field, emphasizing the subject, which could be a feeling or scenario, that they wanted to capture in images. Roy Stryker wrote perhaps the earliest of these shooting scripts in 1936, after a meeting with Robert Lynd, Columbia sociologist and co-author of the influential study "Middletown," and eventually sent it out to all his photographers:

Home in the evening
Photographs showing the various ways that different income groups spend their evenings, for example:
Informal clothes
Listening to the radio
More precise dress
Guests. (Trachtenberg 61)

What is remarkable in even this early example of a shooting script, though it isn't yet as explicit as it becomes later, is the philosophy that the photographer, through skillful expressive arrangements, could convey the feeling of a common experience. Here, you can see Stryker working out the idea that an image of informal clothes and listening to the radio could capture the recognizable, even universal, experience of being home in the evening.





Juliet Gorman, May 2001