of the Southwest
begin their career taking pictures of babies or family portraits
in local department stores and off-the-street studios. Ive
heard it called a kind of dues you must pay.
Not so for Harvey
Caplin, who began as a photographer around 1940. Caplin was
quoted as saying, "I dont do weddings, babies or
portraits." What he did do was gutsy photos of cowboys,
historical images of Native Americans and breathtaking landscapes
of the Southwest.
In 1984, when Caplin
died, he left 55,000 negatives to his daughter. Determined
to make them available to the public, she went from gallery
to gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico, searching for the proper
place to house them. It was there she met Bill Katzemayer.
in Albuquerque before moving to Sedona in June of 2000. Always
fond of art, Katzemayer co-owned a gallery in New Mexico with
a friend. When they parted ways, he moved to Sedona and opened
Southwest Images in Tlaquepaque ... the perfect home for Caplins
photographs. He offers the photographs in either black and
white or sepia, matted or in custom frames.
spoke of some personal and interesting things about Harvey
Caplin lived with
his family in Rochester, New York, in the early 40s. He attended
the Rochester Institute of Technology and majored in photography.
In 1942, he enlisted in the military and was sent to New Mexico
as a damage photographer. However, taking photos of damaged
planes was only a day job.
found the landscape and people of New Mexico fascinating.
In his spare time or when on leave, Caplin began his vast
library of photos of the Southwest.
Knowing this was
the place he wanted to live, Caplin soon sent for his family.
When his tenure in the Army was over he began his photographic
A cowboy wannabe,
Caplin had no problem getting right in there and living the
lifestyle to get the perfect shot. Many of his photos were
taken on the Bell Ranch, a one-million acre ranch in Tucumcari,
NM. Caplin actually worked on the ranch. He got right in there
with the cowboys, often shooting from the back of a horse.
This is what makes
his pictures so unique. There wasnt any posing going
on. These are authentic depictions of life on a working ranch.
Using a 1940s version 4x5 camera, when "automatic"
settings were unheard of, it couldnt have been easy.
While cowboys were
Caplins favorite topic, they by no means were his only.
In the late 40s and 50s, he began shooting photos of Native
Americans in the New Mexico area. Hired by the Bureau of Indian
Affairs to capture and preserve the Indian way of life, Caplin
shot photos of the Pueblo, Navajo and Azumi Indians. From
Ceremonial Apache Dancers in Gallup to Maria Martinez the
Samuel Delfonso potter in Window Rock, Caplin covered a wide
variety of Native American lifestyles.
Caplin also excelled
in landscape shots of the Four Corners Region Utah,
Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. His photos graced the cover
of Life Magazine, Smithsonian and Look, to name a few. The
Saturday Evening Post hired him for a landscape series of
which River of Aspens was born.
In 1960, Caplin
created the four photos that adorn Stetson hat boxes. Just
recently, Stetson has replaced Caplins work with a kind
of generic cowboy print. The soon-to-be collectors photos
of the originals adorn the wall at Southwest Images. Katzemayer
has set them attractively in poster format, matted and framed.
Caplin was well-respected
and well-known in the Southwest. His photos of the Grand Canyon,
Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Arches and White Sands
are beautiful depictions of a timeless landscape.
Many of his photos
can be compared to the style of Ansel Adams. Caplin and Adams
were friends and often borrowed each others techniques.
Caplin also shot
many historical photos like the tearing down of the airport
in Albuquerque and some early railroad pictures. A big fan
of the Pan American Road Race Caplin, has several photos from
to shoot photos until his death in 1984. Along with his legacy
of photos, he left behind complete catalogues of every one
of his 55,000 shots. Concise guides as to how the prints should
be reproduced, their titles, dates shot and other valuable
information was recorded impeccably by Caplin.
of the slight irregularities and flaws that might be seen
in some of the prints. "When youre dealing with
a 55-year-old negative, from a photographer, shot on the back
of a horse in dusty, dirty conditions, theres bound
to be a knick or two."
Abbey doesnt want to change any of it, and Katzemayer
fully supports her decision. He believes the reproductions
to be the "real thing," true depictions of life
in the Southwest.
is in Tlaquepaque Village, Suite A205 in Sedona. Katzemayer
ships anywhere and everywhere. Stop by, or give him a call
at 520-204-9512 for more information or a catalogue of Caplins