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Isaiah West Taber
Portrait of Isaiah West Taber. Unidentified photographer - UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
Isaiah West Taber
Isaiah West Taber

Isaiah West Taber

Country: United States
Birth: 1830 | Death: 1912

Isaiah West Taber was an American daguerreotypist, ambrotypist, and photographer who took many pictures of noted Californians, which he donated to the California State Library "that the state may preserve the names and faces, and keep alive the memory of those who made it what it is." He was also a sketch artist and dentist. His studio also produced a series of stereoscopic views of west coast scenery.

Taber was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts and between 1845 and 1849 he worked at sea on a whaler. He first moved to California in 1850., then returned East in 1854 and opened his first photography studio in Syracuse, New York. In 1864, Taber returned to California, where he worked in the studio of Bradley and Rulofson until 1873.

In 1871, Taber opened his own studio, where he gained fame for reproducing the photos of Carleton Watkins after Watkins went bankrupt, although the reproductions were published without credit to Watkins.

In 1880, Taber made a six-week photographic trip to the Hawaiian Islands where, among other subjects, he photographed the Hawaiian King Kalākaua, completing a commission for three full-length portraits. The following year Kalākaua visited Taber's studio in San Francisco. At this time the Japanese photographer Suzuki Shin'ichi (1855–1912) was studying photographic techniques with Taber; Suzuki also photographed King Kalākaua (in 1881) and may have been the source of some views of Japan included in Taber's stock.

By the 1890s, Taber had expanded his operations to include studios in London, England and in elsewhere Europe. However, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his San Francisco studio, gallery, and negative collection, ending his photographic career.

Source: Wikipedia


Massachusetts native, he was one of the most successful 19th century photographers and photographic publishers. He worked as a gold miner, rancher, and dentist before learning the daguerreotype process and opening one of the first photographic studios in Syracuse, New York. Taber moved to San Francisco in 1864 and joined the photographic publishing firm of Bradley & Rulofson.

In 1871 he opened his own studio and photographic publishing company and soon was operating a successful portrait, landscape, and urban photography business. Like photographers promoting other cities, Taber linked much of his work to the tourist trade. His landscapes and views of San Francisco appeared in publications such as Hartwell and Mitchell's souvenir city-view book and his own two-album set, California Scenery and California Scenery and Industries. The albums were part of a commercial endeavor and contained images from Taber's extensive files, surrounded by advertising text. Taber employed numerous staff photographers whose work he published under his own name.

He also published under the Taber imprint, images by Carleton Watkins after acquiring negatives from the bankrupt photographer in 1876. By the 1890's Taber was internationally famous, with studios in London and on the Continent.

Source: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco


 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

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Mitch Dobrowner
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Zaharia Cusnir
Moldova
1912 | † 1993
Zaharia Cuşnir (1912-1993) was an amateur photographer born in Rosietici village, Floresti region, Moldova. He was photographing people within 1955-1973, and left a collection of negative films 6x6 cm, from which 3751 were discovered in his abandoned house in 2016. The photographs portray groups, landscapes, scenes from everyday life: work in the kolkhoz, weddings, funerals, national celebrations. Life Zaharia Cuşnir was born as the last child in the family of 16 children in Rosietici village, Soroca district. His father was a Moldovan businessman (born 1870), and his mother was of German origins (born in approx. 1870). Zaharia was born in Bessarabia, at that time part of the Russian Empire, educated in Romania (Iasi city), and after WW-II, became a USSR citizen. He went to school to the neighbouring Rogojeni village and later attended the pedagogical lyceum in Iasi, Romania. He began teaching in Rogojeni, then though he worked in kolhoz, performing works as carrying stones, digging the frozen ground, carrying loam, destroying fences, herding cows. Villagers also remember him as a blacksmith. He also built a family of 4 children with his wife, Daria. Zaharia learned photography from his nephew, who returned from the army. The nephew was living in another village, so they decided to split the territory for the photographic activities. So, Zaharia stayed responsible for the surrounding villages: Caşunca, Rogojeni, Țâra, Ghindeşti, Roşietici, and Cenuşa. The first pictures were taken in 1955. Zaharia was photographing mainly portraits of neighbours and then he was selling the photos. He had a bicycle, which he was usually lending to people for a photograph, as well he had a black blanket, which he was using as a background when he was taking portraits. Up to 1973, he had taken around 4000 pictures of the medium format 6x6 cm. In 1993, after he died, the house was abandoned and the pictures were stocked in a suitcase and placed in the attic. Discovery In spring 2016, Victor Galuşca, being a student at the Academy of Arts in Chisinau, Moldova, arrived in Rosietici village to film his documentary film for the bachelor's degree exam. He entered the abandoned house and found several negative films scattered through the trash all around the floor. Victor inquired from the villagers whose house was it and found the daughter of Zaharia Cusnir, living in the neighbourhood. With her permission, within several days, he picked all of them, and together with his photography professor, Nicolae Pojoga started the cleaning and indexing process of the archive. Among all, there were found old documents, among which was an edited request for admission to the school, adjusted to a stilted language used at the time. There was also found a table of exercises written in Russian Cyrillic script, as well as elementary calculus tests designed for primary school. Other documents and archival remnants reveal a struggle between life and death for the majority of the population; these include bread allowances and checks listing debts. Further Development The archive has a high resonance and was appreciated within several exhibitions: at the Museum of Art of Moldova (curated by Cervinscaia Nadejda) and the Romanian Peasant Museum in Romania in 2018, and at the Ethnographic Museum of Transilvania, the Subway Gallery of the House of Arts in Timisoara, Romania and at the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore MARAMUREş from Baia Mare, Romania in 2019. In 2017 a Moldovan Publishing house Cartier published a photo album "Lumea lui Zaharia" ("Zaharia's World"). At the beginning of 2020, was launched the website and facebook page, aiming to give open access to the usage of the Zaharia Cusnir archive. The team is working on few coming exhibitions in Europe in 2020.
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