Photography is a wonderful medium that can be used for artistic expression as well as capturing a moment in time; a time that would be lost forever without this photographic record. Someone who understood this powerful truth was Edward S Curtis, a self-taught photographer working at the turn of the 20th century.
When Curtis moved to the Pacific Northwest
from the American heartland he fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. He was a naturalist as well as a talented photographer. When he met Princess Angeline
, a famous local character as well as Chief Sealth’s daughter, he fell in love with the idea of capturing the image of Native Americans.
More chance meetings by Curtis with the wealthy and well connected led to a life time of pursuing his passion of photographing all Native Americans before their culture vanished forever. He pursued his dream while crisscrossing vast distances of the continental United States while dragging along his 14” x 17” camera and the corresponding glass plates he exposed his images on. (Think of that the next time you complain about your “large” DSLR camera).
I realize his methods are often criticized, and the authenticity of the subjects are brought into question, but without his efforts we wouldn’t even have this much of a record. The images he captured are simply beautiful.
Today is Thanksgiving in my country. A day when we traditionally take stock of what we are grateful for, spend time with our families and remember our countries origin story.With that in mind, what are you grateful for?
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