I'm starting this area out with one of my favorite old time photographers who was responsible for inventing a lot of the techniques and equipment used today...Edward Sherrif Curtis.
Edward Sherrif Curtis was born in 1868 in White Water, Wisconsin, and his family moved to Minnesota shortly after his birth. Curtis was fortunate to have grown up with the Chipewa, Menomini, and Winnebago Tribes close by. Edward was only a young teenager when he built his first homemade camera and taught himself the art of photography from self-help books. His family moved to Washington Territory in 1887, and Edward’s father died that same year. The burden of supporting the entire family fell upon young Edward, so he fished, farmed, did chores for neighbors and dug clams to provide an income for his family. In spite of the financial hardship Curtis managed to buy his first camera. In 1891 Curtis bought a share in a photographic studio that later led to not only photography, but he learned the art of photogravure as well. Many of the photographic works of this era took on the look of French Impressionism because of the soft and atmospheric results of platinotype, gum print, and photogravure. In 1895 Curtis photographed "Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle", and Edward embarked upon his life long career of Native American photography. Curtis then invented the gold and silver processes that today are known as goldtones and silver tints. In the years to follow Curtis took over 40,000 negatives of eighty tribes in an attempt to film every tribe west of the Mississippi. He won several prestigious awards in national photographic conventions that brought him acclaim.
"A Young Yakima Warrior" and "A Mat Lodge"
Edward joined the Harrison Expedition to Alaska that covered over nine thousand miles, and he took over five hundred pictures on this venture. The resulting collection of work from this expedition established Curtis as a true artist. Curtis next traveled to Montana to photograph the Blackfoot Natives’ sun dance. Edward was inspired to attempt to photograph all of the North American Native Tribes. He deduced this would take fifteen years, however, it took over thirty years. After sending a photograph to The Ladies Home Journal Magazine his piece was selected as one of the twelve best. Curtis was then invited to make portraits of Theodore Roosevelt’s sons so that artist Walter Russell could use the pictures as reference in order to paint the president’s sons portraits. Roosevelt later asked Curtis to photograph Geronimo and five other Native American Chiefs on the lawn of the White House. Roosevelt soon became one of Edward’s strongest supporters, and this led to Curtis receiving financial aid from the multi millionaire J.P. Morgan. In 1907 "The North American Indian" was published and was said to be the greatest undertaking in the making of books since the King James Bible.
"Nez Pierce" and "Atso Tohkomi, (Call on All Sides)"
Many years after the battle of The Little BigHorn Curtis endeavored to recreate scenes from this engagement using Crow, Cheyenne, and Sioux warriors in staged poses. Curtis received criticism because of his staged poses, but many people didn’t know Curtis went to great lengths to remove any influence of the white culture the natives had assimilated. Curtis lived among the natives and came to gain their trust and respect. Unfortunately, Edward’s wife was not thrilled with his lifestyle choice, and she filed for divorce in 1919. This event brought about a tragic toll on the legacy of Edward’s portfolio. His wife received his studio and all his negatives as part of the settlement because Curtis refused to appear in court. Outraged, Curtis destroyed all of his glass negatives. Curtis moved to Los Angeles with his daughter Beth, and he embarked on a new venture in the film industry with Cecil B. Demille called "The Ten Commandments". Curtis later filmed "The Plainsman" and sold it for $1,500 because of financial distress. Edward’s next adventure was gold mining, but this work was never completed due to finances. He died in 1952 leaving behind one of the greatest legacies America would ever receive, "The North American Indian", which is now part of The Curtis Collection.
"Blackfoot War Bonnet"
"Aki Tanni, (Two Guns)" and "Cheyenne Woman'"
"Flying Shield (Yanktonai)" and "Good Man (Arapaho)"
"Isqe-Sis (Woman Small)" and "In a Blackfoot Camp"
"Drying Meat (Cheyenne)"
"Felicia (Isleta)" and "Costume of Obsidian Bearer (Hupa)"
"A Piegan Woman"
"Kaisto 'Kill for Nothing' " and "Missi-tslatsa "Owl Old Woman' (Blackfoot)"
"The Look-Out (Apsaroke Tribe)"
"Pukimanstula (Spokan)" and "Kutenai Female"
"Youth in Holiday Costume (Umatilla)" and "Shell Ornaments (Quinault)"
"Standing Bear (Ogalala)" and "Itsipstinkyi 'Kills Inside' (Piegan)"