First Photographers

Our Earliest Dated Photo


This photo of the Mangan family farm on Guemes Island is the earliest dated photograph we have in our collection. The photo was taken in 1875 by J.O. Booen, a photographer that would become quite prolific in the area in the coming decades. By the time this photo was taken, white settlers had already been in the area for nearly two decades, following generations of Coast Salish history in the area.

Fidalgo's Earliest Photographers

WF 0552Charles J. Huntington

Charles J. Huntington of Olympia was the first documented photographer on Fidalgo Island. Seattle’s Daily Intelligencer reported on Sept. 18, 1877, that Huntington was coming to photograph Amos Bowman’s “new city, as a sight to show to Eastern people,” and to make views of Mr. Munks’ store, farm, orchard and wharf. This small story may also solve the mystery of who photographed Amos and Annie around that time, in the city they founded. Sadly, the young photographer died only a year later, in 1878, during a working visit to La Conner.

Munks Landing on the West Side of March's Point -- Charles Huntington (probably) c. 1877

Judkins Floating Sunbeam GalleryJudkins Floating

Judkins Floating Sunbeam Gallery c.1880s

The second photographer known to reach Fidalgo’s shores was David R. Judkins, with his delightfully named Floating Sunbeam Gallery. Judkins put his studio on a 45 x 20-foot barge (said the Feb. 28, 1880 Daily Intelligencer) and brought it to La Conner in 1880 and 1881. He canceled at least one trip to Fidalgo in 1881. Judkins also photographed his family picnicking at Deception Pass in the 1890s, and he could be responsible for some of the unidentified photos of people enjoying that area. One of his employees was J.O. Booen.

Born in Maine in 1836, Judkins worked as a photographer in San Francisco. In 1868 he returned east, married Ellen Gill, and opened a studio in Illinois, then returned to California. In 1879 he opened a studio in Port Townsend and got divorced. He then married Ida A. Bangs, with whom had three children. The family moved between Washington State, British Columbia, and Alaska, opening various galleries and studios. By 1903, as a widower with one surviving child (Hazle), he moved back to California where he worked until his death in 1909.

Judkins Edit 01

The Equality Colony. A socialist commune outside of Edison, WA. -- D.R. Judkins c. 1898-1903