These illustrations were created by photographer A.B Phelan to accompany H. Irving Hancock’s Physical Training for Business Men, a handbook of simple exercises designed to improve a man’s poise and appearance and give him a subtle advantage in the competitive marketplace.
Hancock opens with a parable about an electrical contractor whose poor posture distracts and disgusts a potential client. The sloucher is rejected in favor of a contractor who carries himself with alertness and grace.
Defects in carriage, gait, breathing and more are enumerated and linked to losses in the workplace. Hancock then describes a routine of simple exercises that can transform the slovenly failure into an upright closer.
Using “one of the best qualified in physical appearance among the younger men of the Army” as a model and a camera technique of his own invention, Phelan’s photos illustrate the recommended exercises with ghostly contrails of motion.