© All photos by Byron Harmon, courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
Byron Harmon arrived in Banff from Tacoma, Washington in 1903 as a travelling photographer. The landscape and the spirit of adventure which permeated the Rockies then captivated Byron and set the stage for his life's work.
In the 6,000 plus photographs extant in the Byron Harmon collection exists a portrait of a period as much as place. Byron's photographs capture the golden era of mountain exploration, yet they go beyond recording places and events. He was acutely aware of telling a story with photographs; he made sure of the casting, set the scene, and engrosses the viewer in the action.
When the Alpine Club of Canada was established in 1906 Byron was a founding member and its official photographer. The ACC undertook much of the formal exploration of the remote regions in the Rockies and Selkirks including surveying, glacial studies and many first ascents. This provided the perfect setting for photography and many of the early Harmon photographs date from these ACC camps and expeditions, often months in duration. As few roads existed then, travel was by packtrain in summer, dogteam and snowshoes in winter. Teepees or canvas wall tents were carried along as well as provisions for months on the trail.
Most of Byron's photographs were taken with a 5X7 view camera with cellulose-nitrate negatives as glass plates were too heavy and fragile. He also was an avid movie maker but most of his movie footage has been lost or destroyed. In addition to these basic cameras he often had a smaller view camera along on an expedition and oddities like a stereo or panorama cameras. The Byron Harmon negative collection is now housed and maintained by The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and is an enduring record of life in the Canadian wilderness.
The Byron Harmon Portfolio
The portfolio of fifteen images presented here were selected by Carole Harmon, grand-daughter of Byron Harmon, to create a series of fine art photographic prints.
Ms. Harmon has worked with the Byron Harmon collection since 1976. She arranged for the donation of the negative collection to the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and designed and printed an exhibition of Byron Harmon photographs, In Mountain Light, which toured Canada and the United States. She was also involved in the editing and production of Great Days in the Rockies, The Photographs of Byron Harmon, 1906 - 1934 published by Oxford University Press and subsequently by Altitude Publishing, Ltd.
The prints in this portfolio are hand made by Ms. Harmon. To prevent deterioration of the delicate original negatives through over-use, enlarged printing negatives have been produced by The Chicago Albumen Works, a company which specializes in working with vintage photographic collections. These negatives are contact printed onto printing out paper, a vintage, hand made photographic paper which is suited to printing the long tonal scale and high contrast of the Byron Harmon negatives. The prints are toned with gold and archivally processed, archivally matted, and individually titled and dated.
Byron Harmon, Mountain Photographer
This new book of Byron Harmon photographs has been edited by Carole Harmon, grand-daughter of the photographer, with an introductory biography by Bart Robinson. Beginning in 1906 it follows the career of Byron Harmon from his early work as official photographer for the Alpine Club of Canada to the early 1930's when he was documenting early ski trips in the Rockies. Byron Harmon's photographs are dramatic, evocative, and frequently amusing. They provide a rich insight into the Canadian wilderness.
112 pages, paperback, 10" x 8" vertical, black and white reproductions throughout.
© 1996 Mistaya Communications Corporation