Saturday, January 23, 2016

Getty Photographs of Yosemite by Carleton E. Watkins

In this video, Matthew Butson, Vice-President of the Getty Images Archive, examines the now-iconic photographs of Carleton E. Watkins kept within the Archive's vintage vaults. Watkins was one of the earliest American landscape photographers, and in 1861, he set out to capture the untouched landscapes of Yosemite, California. These photographs of Yosemite set Watkin on the path to become, as Butson states, "a pioneering environmental photographer." The large scale of Watkins' images and plates allowed Watkins to reproduce every detail of the vast scenes he photographed. One of Watkins' albums of his Yosemite photographs was shown to President Abraham Lincoln by a senator, which inspired Lincoln to set forth and sign the Yosemite Grant Act in 1864. This Act determined that the area of Yosemite would be held and cared for by the State of California "for public use, resort, and recreation," and not developed by private, commercial enterprises. The preservation of Yosemite National State Park by state and federal resources paved the way for the designation of other national parks and monuments.

View from Camp Grove, Yosemite
Carleton E. Watkins, 1861
Albumen print

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