Walter S. Bowman

Walter S. Bowman

Born in Pendleton in about 1862, Walter S. Bowman spent his entire life near that city. Beginning as an itinerant photographer, he soon established himself as Pendleton's "Leading Photographer and View Artist", according to an 1898 advertisement.

Self-taught, Bowman developed his first negative in 1885, and began his career with an ordinary amateur outfit and a 5x7 camera. He opened his first studio in 1887 in a cheap frame building at the end of the bridge over the Pendleton River, and remained in that location, eventually building a new concrete block structure with blocks he cast himself.

After his death in a car crash on an icy highway east of town in 1938, the Oregonian wrote, "During the early part of the century Bowman was one of the outstanding photographers of eastern Oregon. He had retired in recent years from active work. He was especially well known for his outstanding action pictures of the Pendleton Round-up."

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  1. Very Small Boy with Prosthetic Hand - Bowman

    A Very Small Boy, with a Prosthetic Hand - 1890s

    This early Bowman portrait features a very small Native American boy with a prosthetic hand, standing on a wicker chair. Learn More
  2. Mother and Daughter at Pendleton - Bowman

    Mother and Daughter at Pendleton - c. 1895

    This touching studio portrait was created by Walter Bowman, who for many years operated a photo studio in Pendleton. He often took portraits of people from the nearby Umatilla Reservation. Learn More
  3. Pendleton Hose Team - Bowman

    Pendleton Hose Team - 1897

    The Pendleton Hose Team at the 1897 Eastern Oregon and Washington Firemen's Tournament at Baker City. Learn More
  4. Two Girls from Helix, Oregon - Bowman

    Two Girls from Helix, Oregon - c. 1892

    Short-cropped hair was actually quite common for girls in the 1890s, as is shown in this portrait by Pendleton photographer Walter Bowman. Learn More
  5. Woman Shooting Competitor - Bowman

    Woman Shooting Competitor c. 1900

    This woman in turn-of-the-century athletic garb appears to be ready for a pistol shooting competition. Learn More

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