Carleton Watkins

Carleton Watkins (1829-1916), the creator of the striking photographs of the remote Yosemite Valley that so inspired the New York Times critic, had moved to California around 1851 from the small New York town of Oneonta. One of many young men drawn to the West during the Gold Rush, he first worked in Sacramento as a teamster and carpenter for a dry goods establishment. In 1853 he moved to San Francisco, where by chance he learned how to photograph when asked to stand in for an absent employee in a photography studio. He soon established his own business making photographs for land dispute cases and mining interests. Following his first photographic expedition to Yosemite in the summer of 1861, Watkins' reputation was securely established, and for the next two decades he created some of the finest American landscape photographs of the nineteenth century.