As always, some of the images can be enlarged by clicking on them
Not long after homo-type beings invented themselves, somebody used her finger to draw the first picture in the dirt. Then somebody else noticed that you could get better line control by using a stick. And pretty soon somebody was selling sticks to draw with. That is how things work.
As “art” evolved into sculpture and painting, somebody was always only a beat behind selling the tools to do art. The first books were written by hand and often included art, because even a dull book can be improved by a few pictures. When the first printing presses began rolling, art lagged a bit behind at first, but printers soon figured out how to include art.
Photography was invented in the early-mid 19th century. Almost from the start, somebody figured out how to make color photographs, but it took printers awhile to discover how to print even monochrome photos. Once that was accomplished, it was Katie bar the door.
The first widely circulated photograph of a Winston-Salem location that we know of appears above. It was published in the 1885-86 Salem Female Academy Catalog and was distributed from coast to coast, because by then, the Academy was attracting students from all over the USA, with a sprinkling from Canada, the Caribbean, South America and even Europe.
In fact, the first locals to truly embrace photography were the Academy girls. As soon as George Eastman introduced his first “consumer” camera in 1888, they started popping up all over campus. Photography quickly worked its way into the Academy curriculum. And the term “Kodak fiend” became a common part of their vocabulary. They even formed “Kodak clubs”.
By that same year, Edgar F. Barber had bought out C.G. Lanier’s large printing company on West Fourth Street and was in the process of moving to a new building on Third Street. As photographs became a more and more important part of his business, he began producing souvenir picture postcards for sale, many of them featuring his own business. A number of other local businesses had begun stocking cameras and film in a hit or miss manner. Barber became the first to offer a complete array of consumer photography products.
Within a decade, that business had outgrown his Third Street space, so on March 1, 1918, he opened a separate business, Barber Photo Supply, on West Fifth Street, across from the post office. That business was managed by W.W. Stroud, and was an immediate success.
By the late 1920s, Barber was ready to retire. He sold the photo shop to Henry Lindley. Because Barber had done such a great job of building his brand, Lindley decided to retain the Barber name. A few years later, he hired a teenaged “Kodak fiend” named Frank Jones. Frank was already selling his pictures to the local newspaper, and would soon become a local legend in photography. His personal collection of photographs, which included a great many historical pictures from the 19th and early 20th centuries, would eventually become the basis of the Forsyth County Public Library’s collection, one of the best in the South.
The Historic American Buildings Survey was begun in 1933, a joint effort of the American Institute of Architects, the National Park Service and the Library of Congress to document our national architectural heritage. In 1934, Barber Photo Supply agreed to furnish some of the first photos.
Soon thereafter, Lindley’s son, Henry, Jr., joined the firm. By the early 1950s, the Lindley name had become synonymous with photography on the local scene. In early 1955, the Lindley’s reincorporated the company as Lindley Photo. At that point, they had already been in business at the same location for over 25 years. They would remain in place until George, Jr. shut the business down in 1991, having had a run of over sixty years.
Today, the dominant force in photography is the well known software program, Photoshop, which played an important role in this blog post. But it was not the first photo shop in the Twin City.