Article on Lummis as a Pioneering Photojournalist

My piece on Charles Lummis’s days as a pioneering photojournalist appears in the February-March issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine. It is the Dallas-based magazine’s annual photography issue. As I recount in the article:

Photography was a passion of Lummis’ from the moment he acquired his first camera in 1886. He set off with it on a reporting trip through Arizona and New Mexico a few months later. As he noted in one of his reports for the Los Angeles Times from that trip, “One of the regrets of my lengthy paseo of two years ago was my lack of ability to bring away pictorial reminiscences of the countless places along the road.” He had resolved to “learn light-writing — the expressive name which photography has borrowed from a language that knew nothing of these later wonders” so that wouldn’t happen again.

Recent advances in technology had paved the way for his photojournalistic forays. The dry-plate process perfected over the previous decade unchained photographers from darkroom wagons of the sort that Mathew Brady had to haul around during the Civil War. The wet plates Brady used had to be made shortly before exposing them and developed soon after. By the 1880s, dry-plate negatives could be purchased in bulk and stored for months. Lummis carried 90 plates with him on his 1886 reporting trip. He could go practically anywhere he cared to lug his Dallmeyer lens, camera, and tripod, a kit that tipped the scales at a mere 40 pounds. With a shutter speed of one-twentieth of a second, he could take reasonably sharp action shots of Indian dances.

Read the entire article here: Charles Fletcher Lummis: Character with a Camera.

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