Photo Surprise

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A French term, photo surprise was a common photographic practice in the Middle East between the 1940s and the 1960s, and was especially popular in Lebanon. Photographers working in this tradition were called surpriseurs. Based in urban centers such as Beirut, Tripoli, and Istanbul, surpriseurs photographed pedestrians as they strolled city streets. The subjects―some posing, others caught unawares―were handed cards with the photographer’s studio address and contact information so they could order prints.