These photos were first discovered by Elaine Ewing in 2019 and are now available for the pilates community for the first time in history. The photos are of Elaine Malbin during a photo shoot of a lesson with Joe. Elaine is shown singing while exercising. This sampling of photos includes never-before-seen photos from within Joe’s studio, as well as never-seen photos of inside the changing room at Joe’s!
Learn How I Found the Photos
If you’re on social media (specifically Instagram) you might have already heard the news about my discovery of over 100 archival and original pilates photos that I found at The Library of Congress in 2019.
Not on Instagram? It only takes a second to create an account. Plus, you’ll want to so you can view all the incredible photos!!
Long story short…
In 2019 I was researching online for a Pilates at The Pillow™ workshop and I came across a vague listing on the Library of Congress website that said “Elaine Malbin exercising in a NYC gym and demonstrating on apparatus”. It said there were over 100 unpublished negatives and color slides! I knew that Elaine Malbin was a client of Joe’s and had appeared in multiple articles as the model in his studio. So I figured- it must be photos inside the pilates studio!
I called the library and they told me that I would need to set a date to come view these negatives in person. They were not available to view online or in any other way other than going in person because they had never been requested before and were kept in a refrigerated building off site.
So, I requested the photos, set a date, and drove down to Washington DC (6 hours one way) and went to the Library of Congress. What if the photos weren’t from inside the pilates studio, and just of some random gym in the 1950s?! It was entirely possible. But I just had a strong feeling that it must be pilates.
The librarian had the boxes waiting for me on a table. The moment she held the first slide up to the light for me was incredible- it showed Elaine Malbin, in color, on the Ped-o-Pul! I was so excited, she probably thought I was crazy!
I spent the next few hours pouring over the photos but I had to leave soon because I still had a 6 hour drive back home. If I left, the images would all go back to the refrigerator and would never be available for anyone else to see without going to the library in person to view them, like I did.
So, I requested that the images be scanned. By paying for over 20 contact sheets and many color slides to be scanned, the library then digitized the images, therefore making them available to view outside of the library. Because of this, pilates teachers across the world are now able to view these images from anywhere in the world, and do not have to visit the library in person.
The photos were taken by photographer John Vachon and are copyright The Library of Congress. I do not own the photos. These photos were taken for an article for Look Magazine that was never published. When Look Magazine donated its archives to the library, it was under the stipulation that the photos could never be used for “trade purposes”- which means they cannot be legally sold. However they can be used for educational purposes.
Original Pilates Photos
The photos were taken by photographer John Vachon and were taken for an article for Look Magazine that was never published. Look Magazine donated the negatives and their archive to The Library of Congress, which has informed me in writing that these photos can be used for educational purposes, such as this webpage.