Benjamin Clayton Markham was born September 11, 1881. In 1900, at the age of 19, he headed west from Illinois to New Whatcom, Washington, near Bellingham where he was an engineer in a logging camp. His younger brother Ora, who was 18, convinced Ben to quit the logging business and buy two cameras so they could become partners. Ora moved from Peoria, Illinois out to New Whatcom and they started taking picture post cards of the lumberjacks in the logging camps. The Markham brothers moved on to Seattle, then to Portland in December 1903. Ben worked for Woodard Clark Company, one of the largest photo supply houses in the Northwest. Several months later, they split up and went their separate ways. Ben moved to San Francisco and worked at a photo supply house. Ora went to Everett, Tacoma and Spokane, then to Oakland, California before traveling throughout the country. Both Markham brothers moved back to Portland. Ora arrived in 1911, buying the Marcel Studio and building a very successful career as a portrait photographer; and Ben in 1912, where he worked at the Blumauer Photo Supply Company. In 1914, Ben teamed with his boss, Nelson Pike and bought out Blumauer. The Pike & Markham Company operated until 1919 when the partnership was dissolved. Markham became an automotive mechanic for several years. In 1925, Ben moved to The Dalles where he set up a new studio at age 45, in a town dominated by the Gifford Studio. He specialized in photographing Central Oregon farmers, their families and their hired hands. His legendary views of Native Americans in authentic dress are highly sought after today. Markham survived the initial shock of the Great Depression in 1929, but eventually sold his studio to Everett Olmstead on April 14, 1933. Markham retained most of his negatives and moved to Portland again, where he continued to sell post cards. In the next few months, Ben became the Staff Photographer for Olds Wortman and King, one of Portland's prominent department stores. By 1939, Markham became the manager of Olds and King's Camera Department and he continued to sell post cards of his work from the 1920s. On December 25, 1942, B.C. Markham died of a heart attack at his home.
Arthur B. Cross partnered with Edward L. Dimmitt to sell real photo post cards of the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood and Portland. Cross opened his Electric Studio in Portland in 1909. Dimmitt was born in 1881 in Columbia, Missouri. In 1909, Dimmitt was first listed in the Portland City Directory as a waiter. In 1914, he began working for Cross at the Electric Studio. In 1916, they became partners and named their business Cross & Dimmitt. Cross & Dimmitt sold post cards off the running boards of their Model T at Crown Point. A set of 20 views, which are fairly common today, sold for $1. Their business grew and they built a post card stand at Crown Point. In the 1920â€™s, they set up a studio at 72nd and Sandy Boulevard in Portland. Cross died August 6, 1940 and Dimmitt died on April 26, 1963 at the age of 82. He had managed the Vista House for 40 years.
Private Mailing Cards published between 1898 and 1901. The Detroit Publishing Company was one of the largest American publishers of postcards and photographic views during the early decades of the twentieth century. During its height, the Detroit Publishing Company sold millions of prints annually. The company maintained outlets in Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, London, and Zurich, and also sold their images at popular tourist spots and through the mail. The Detroit Photographic Company was launched as a photographic publishing firm in the late 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr., and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher. The company obtained the exclusive rights to use the Swiss "Photochrom" for converting black-and-white photographs to color prints. Photochroms were made by a photomechanical process using multiple lithographic stones. A separate lithographic stone was required for each color in the final print. A minimum of four stones were used for each print, and occasionally as many as fourteen stones were used. This process permitted the mass production of color postcards, prints, and albums for sale to the American market.
Son of the famous Benjamin Gifford, Ralph was a talented photographer in his own right. Born in Portland, Ralph I. Gifford (1894-1947) worked in his father's photography studio as a boy and accompanied his father on photography trips around Oregon. He married Wanda Muir Theobald in 1918 and spent the last part of World War I in the U.S. Navy. Ralph took over his father's photography business around 1920 and sold it in 1928 to go into the motion picture business with F. C. Heaton in Portland. In 1936, Ralph became the first photographer of the newly established Travel and Information Department of the Oregon State Highway Commission. His landscape views of Oregon's natural beauty were used for many years to promote tourism in the state. He also took motion pictures for the Highway Commission, including its 1941 color version of The New Oregon Trail, which was shown in every state in the U.S., and Glimpses From Oregon State Parks, released shortly before Ralph's death on June 23, 1947. His obituary, published in several Oregon newspapers in late June 1947, stated that "more than any other person, he is responsible for the tourist business in Oregon being an $83,500,000 business." Ralph also took and sold photographs commercially; many of his commercial views were taken at the same time as his Highway Commission photos. His photographs could be purchased as postcards, view sets, individual prints, and photo-plaques. In a letter to the managing editor of U.S. Camera magazine, Ralph stated in 1943 that his work was "to visually educate the traveling public as to Oregon's scenic and vacation possibilities." The Oregon State University Archives houses many of Ralph's photos. See http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/archives/archive/pho/p218inv_ralph.html