WINCHESTER—Although part of the history of early photography in Winchester can be traced through the advertisements and business listings of professional photography studios, professionals were not the only bugs with the camera photo in town.
The number of early amateur photographers in Winchester cannot be calculated. Evidence of local activity is building, however, with the turn of the 20th century and more detailed newspaper reports of local activity.
Around 1902, there was renewed interest in town. The Winchester Star started a photography column. The public library, which had previously hosted several guest lecturers using photographic illustrations, held an exhibit solely for local amateur photographers in late 1903. About 140 photos representing 20 or more exhibitors were received.
Due to awards given and made public, some of the enthusiasts have been identified. They included three clerks (William J. Ladd, Stillman Shaw and George G. Taylor), two machinists (Eugene J. Ray and Charles Casgrain), an image dealer (J. Eastman Chase), an insurance actuary (Frank J Wills), assistant railroad supervisor (Henry C. Robinson), kindergarten teacher (Helen P. Lane) and a 17-year-old student (Alfred Denley, future mechanical engineer and lifelong photography enthusiast).
A Special Exhibition Award went to artist WHW Bicknell for his pinhole landscape photos. Fellow artist Hermann Dudley Murphy and Photo Era: The American Journal of Photography associate editor HW Taylor presented the awards.
The Winchester Star commented that “The first assemblage of our amateurs’ work shows that we have among us an unusually large number of artistic workers in this department of art.”
This led to the formation of what may have been the first local camera club in 1904.
The club was short-lived, an exhibition in June 1904 at City Hall apparently being its last act. During the winter of 1910-1911, the Winchester Handicraft Society’s plan, headed by Murphy, to hold an exhibition of amateur photography (with a $5 gold coin as the prize) never materialized, despite the Society’s view that “photography is as much a part of the Arts and Crafts movement as metalwork, sewing or woodcarving and the Society undertakes this prize exhibition in the hope of bringing out good work by camera owners of which there are many in the city.”
That there were many local photographers is evident in the collections at the Winchester Center Archives. While many (if not most) of the photographers are unidentified, there are exceptions, such as Henry Robinson who created an album of photographs of the Aberjona River and Lester Fuller Smith who photographed homes and scenes around town . Although their names do not appear in the photos, it can be assumed that John McLaren Enman participated in the collection of glass negatives which preserve (among other things) images of buildings he built (such as the Calumet Club), and likewise Frank Wills whose son John was a member of the Camera Club and whose family photos document his home and family.
While some residents had cameras to create art and others simply to capture personal memories, a local amateur photographer also used his to make contributions to science.
Dr. Charles H. Tozier (1875-1947) was a dental surgeon with a DDS from Harvard University. Photography was his passion. But it was such a captivating quest that he gained an international reputation in the field of color photography.
Tozier, who moved to Winchester in 1914, was a world traveler. According to the Boston Globe, by 1942 he had traveled 100,000 miles in North, South and Central America and taken 13 kilometers of brilliant color film and some 8,000 color photos.
The Star reported that “he was internationally known in the field of color photography, and in 1939 he led an archaeological expedition to the ancient Maya region of Guatemala…. He was commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to photograph the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg…and among other outstanding commissions was one to take official photographs for the Mexican government.
He gave many illustrated lectures in Winchester and other communities, most of them to help a charitable cause.
As a speaker, Tozier was not just an armchair travel guide; he also used photography for science education. In 1933, as recorded by Science (magazine), he presented a “Demonstration of the Value of Color Photography in the Teaching of All Branches of the Natural Sciences” at a meeting of the Association for the advancement of science. His illustrations included minerals, geological formations, corals, birds, fish, trees, flowers, etc., as well as histological sections of normal and pathological tissues and staining reactions seen under high magnification, apparently with extreme fidelity and precision.
The Boston Transcript reporter was particularly impressed with the latter.
“Dr. Tozier, has been experimenting for several years, making color photography his hobby. Now his pet diversion has reached scientific value.
His full-color anatomical images offered medical students the opportunity “to see for the first time what the ‘innards’ look like in absolute detail, color, structure, etc.”
The history of photography in Winchester is certainly diverse. No wonder, since from the start the number of local photographers grew steadily, eventually including the whole city.
Examples of local photography, professional and amateur work, can be viewed by visiting https://winchester.pastperfectonline.com/