Benjamin A. Gifford - Fine Art Prints of Historical Photos

Benjamin A. Gifford - Fine Art Prints of Historical Photos

Benjamin A. Gifford (1859-1936) was born in DuPage County, Illinois. After briefly attending college, he worked for several years as an apprentice in photo galleries in Kansas and Missouri, before becoming a partner in his own studio in Ft. Scott, Kansas.

After his marriage in 1884, he and his wife Myrtle moved to Portland in 1888, and by 1891 had opened a studio across the street from the Hotel Portland. Gifford was the first photographer in Portland to use electric lights for making enlargements.

About 1895 he moved to The Dalles and operated a studio there, though he maintained strong ties to Portland. Gifford returned to Portland in 1910, where his son Ralph took over operation of the studio in about 1920. After his first wife died in 1919, Benjamin married Rachel Morgan, who had worked in his studio, and they moved to Clark County to a home they called "Wa-ne-Ka" after his famous photograph, "Sunset on the Columbia".

Known for his images of Native Americans and scenic views of the Columbia River and the Columbia River Highway, Gifford published Art Work of Oregon (1900) and a view book titled Snap Shots on the Columbia (1902). More recently, his photographs were featured in the book Oregon, Then & Now (2000), by Portland photographer Steve Terrill.

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  1. A. M. Williams Dry Goods, The Dalles - Benjamin Gifford

    A. M. Williams Dry Goods, The Dalles - c. 1895

    Built in 1870, this building still stands at 306 2nd Street, though the facade has been extensively modernized for both it and the building to the right. Learn More
  2. Bailey Gatzert in Cascade Locks - Gifford

    Bailey Gatzert in Cascade Locks - 1904

    The Cascade Locks were completed in 1896, eight years before this photo was taken by Benjamin A. Gifford. Learn More
  3. Building on the Edge - Gifford

    Building on the Edge - 1890s

    A rather surreal photograph of a building overhanging the edge of a channel at the Dalles. Learn More
  4. Celilo Falls on the Columbia - Gifford

    Celilo Falls on the Columbia - 1900

    This view of three men looking over Celilo Falls is one of Benjamin Gifford's better-known photos, and rightly so. Learn More
  5. Five Young Ladies Rehearsing Their Parts - Gifford

    Five Young Ladies Rehearsing Their Parts - c. 1892

    In this early Benjamin Gifford photo, we see five girls in matching dresses apparently rehearsing for a stage performance. Learn More
  6. Mulltnomah Falls with Timber Bridge - Gifford

    Multnomah Falls with Timber Bridge - c. 1895

    Multnomah Falls, showing its original bowstring-truss timber bridge. Learn More
  7. My Day at Home. Wa-Ku-Kum - Gifford

    My Day at Home. Wa-Ku-Kum - 1899

    A young woman stands (not very happily) next to her tepee along the south bank of the Columbia River near the Dalles. Learn More
  8. New Bridges at Multnomah Falls - Benjamin A. Gifford

    New Bridges at Multnomah Falls - circa 1916

    This is an especially nice version of a classic view of Multnomah Falls, taken shortly after both the automobile bridge and pedestrian bridge were completed. Learn More
  9. North Wall of Treasure Cove, Near Manzanita - Benjamin Gifford

    North Wall of Treasure Cove, Near Manzanita - 1909

    Although his larger prints were widely distributed, Benjamin Gifford did not make many hand-tinted glass slides. Learn More
  10. Nursing Students, The Dalles General Hospital - Gifford

    Nursing Students, The Dalles General Hospital - c. 1919

    This image of a class of nursing students and their two instructors demonstrates Gifford's skill at using natural light when working outside his own studio. The sheer curtains soften the light and even the stark walls of the hospital. Learn More
  11. Oneonta Bluff - Benjamin Gifford

    Oneonta Bluff - c. 1895

    Looking east towards Oneonta Bluff, before the Columbia River Highway tunnel was bored through it to the right of the railroad tracks. Learn More
  12. Oregon's Indian Madonna - Gifford

    Oregon's Indian Madonna - c. 1905

    Gifford's affection for soft-focus especially lends itself to "Oregon's Indian Madonna", one of his most famous photos. Learn More
  13. Pop-Kio-Wina (Short Arm) - Gifford

    Pop-Kio-Wina (Short Arm) - 1899

    This studio portrait was taken in The Dalles by Benjamin Gifford in 1899. Learn More
  14. Prinz & Nitschke Undertaking and Furniture, The Dalles - Gifford

    Prinz & Nitschke Undertaking and Furniture, The Dalles - c. 1895

    In our modern world of specialization, you don't see too many "undertaking and furniture" companies anymore, but you can imagine how the same skills and equipment were needed to make both back in the day. Learn More
  15. Shepperd's Dell Bridge, Columbia River Highway

    Shepperd's Dell Bridge, Columbia River Highway - c. 1916

    This highly detailed view of the bridge was printed in a large size by Benjamin Gifford shortly after the bridge was completed in 1914. The roadway is still gravel, so I'm dating it to 1916. Learn More
  16. The Home Guard. On the Columbia - Gifford

    The Home Guard. On the Columbia - c. 1899

    This variation on Gifford's famous "Sunset on the Columbia" features the family's dog, left behind to guard their tepees pitched along the Columbia River. Learn More

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