It took Edward Curtis just a few years after arriving in the small town of Seattle in 1887 to establish a reputation as one of its finest portrait photographers. Uneducated and self-taught, he quickly became one of the most respected lensmen in America and was summoned to capture images of President Theodore Roosevelt and even the president’s daughter’s wedding.
But it was Ed Curtis’s passion for photographing Native Americans that became his life’s work. He set out on an ambitious race to document their way of life before it was gone. The iconic photographs of Chief Joseph and Geronimo that many of us are familiar with today were made by Curtis, and are part of his enduring legacy.
Timothy Egan, writes about Curtis’s contributions in his book, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. The book, now out in paperback, won the Carnegie Medal for best nonfiction and the Chautauqua Prize, and was named to a number of best book lists.
Egan is the author of seven books, including, The Worst Hard Time, which won the 2006 National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America. He was a guest on Reader's Corner in 2010 to discuss some of his earlier work.
Timothy Egan writes an online opinion column for The New York Times and has also worked as a national correspondent for the newspaper. A third-generation westerner, he lives in Seattle.