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John S. Broadaway was an itinerant photographer who came to Charlotte in 1865. His temporary studio was above the Charlotte Bank. An advertisement from The Western Democrat indicates that his “traveling” studio “Gem Photograph” would be in town for a few days. Broadaway offered “fereotypes [sic], ambrotypes and all kinds of collodion pictures in carte de visite, lockets, pins, rings, cases and made in the best style of the art.” Prices ranged from one dollar and upwards. (1)
Apparently Broadaway believed that he could open a profitable studio in Charlotte because two years later he is listed as an ambrotypist in Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory (1867-1868) along with Henry Baumgarten. (2 ) By 1869, their job title changed, and Branson’s Directory lists both men as “photographers.” (3) Although some sources claim that Baumgarten was the first commercial photographer in Charlotte, no primary documentation can be found that verifies this assertion. (4)
Broadaway sold his business to Henry Baumgarten in 1872 and later moved to Sumter, South Carolina. He tried, unsuccessfully, to return to Charlotte, but Baumgarten sued and won a case in which he claimed Broadaway agreed not to re-open a photography studio in Charlotte. Broadaway maintained studios in Augusta, Georgia, Rutherfordton, North Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina and lastly in what later became Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (5)
There are no known copies of Broadaway’s work in the Carolina Room collection but there are fine examples of Baumgarten’s work. Nevertheless a discussion of the two is necessary because during the early part of their careers, their paths intertwined and would eventually cause one of them to leave Charlotte. It also offers some insight into the photography business in Charlotte following the Civil War.
- Ambrotype was introduced in 1854 and remained popular until about 1865. It was easier and cheaper to produce than daguerreotypes. An ambrotype is a wet collodion negative on glass with a dull black surface behind the negative, which creates a positive image.
- Collodion printed-out paper (1885-1920) contain silver and gold which can turn the photograph black. Popular between 1885 and 1920, collodion prints were used in the making of cabinet cards.
- Daugerrotype - This photographic process was invented in 1839 in France. It combines the negative and positive into one image. Using a sheet of highly polished silver-plated copper and not a negative, the image side can either be a negative or a positive depending upon how the light strikes its mirror-like surface. Sold in handsome covered wooden or leather boxes the daguerreotype retained its popularity throughout the mid-nineteenth century.
- Ferrotype or tintype as it is commonly known were introduced in the late 1850s and were used well into the 20th century. The tintype is a direct positive image upon a sensitized iron base. Like the daguerreotype and the ambrotype, a negative is not produced.
More information about early photographic techniques can be found in Care and Identification of 19th-Century Photographic Prints by James M. Reilly, (Rochester, New York: Eastman Kodak Company, 1986.
- The Western Democrat, 1 August 1865, p. 3.
- Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory (1867-1868) , p. 73.
- Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory for 1869, p. 98.
- The Jews of Charlotte. McNally and Loftin, Publishers, 1978, p. 7.
- Steve Massengill, Photographers in North Carolina, The First Century, 1842-1942, pg. 53.