These platinotypes, or platinum prints, were made by the photographer during several travels throughout the American Southwest between 1895 and 1904.
Adam Clark Vroman (1856-1916) was an early American photographer known for his platinotypes depicting the landscape and people he had encountered during seven trips through Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico spread throughout nine years beginning in 1895.
Originally from La Salle, Illinois and formerly a railroad agent, Vroman and his wife, Esther, moved to Pasadena, California in 1893 hoping that the region’s dry climate would help improve the condition of the latter, who was then showing early symptoms of tuberculosis. There, Vroman opened a book, stationery, and photo-supply shop.
With Vroman during his photographic trips was his friend, Charles Fletcher Lunmis, Los Angeles Times editor and amateur photographer. Additionally, in 1897 and 1899, Vroman was tapped by the Bureau of American Ethnology, first, to prove the existence of Indian habitation at Enchanted Mesa in central New Mexico and, second, to document Southwestern pueblos and cliff dwellings.
Below are some of Vroman’s platinotype portraits of Native Americans. In his introduction to “Photographer of the Southwest: Adam Clark Vroman” by Ruth Manhood, photographic historian Beaumont Newhall wrote, “[Vroman] avoided the sentimental, the contrived, and the obvious. He photographed simply, directly, and sympathetically.”