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.
If you want to read one account of his life please check out Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. If you visit Seattle you can stop by Chihuly: Garden and Glass where there is displayed 25 stunning Curtis’s alongside original Native American rugs and baskets. It seems our own local celebrity Dale Chihuly (read: famous glass artist) was inspired by the work of Curtis and the Native Peoples.
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?