The Cat's Out of the Bag: Antique Cameras from the Williams Collection

Antique Cameras from the Williams Collection

In 2013 UNT Libraries acquired the Bryd Williams Family Photography Collection, a large collection of artifacts and photography spanning four generations and over 100 years of north Texas history. Over 10,000 prints and 300,000 negatives make up the collection which includes commercial and studio photography, western landscapes, documentary studies and fine art photography. This collection was acquired through the UNT Libraries Porter-Evans Texana Endowment.

This collection of cameras was used by the Williams family during different periods in the family’s photographic history. The oldest camera dates back to the early twentieth century. Some of these cameras may seem unusual compared with today’s lens technology. Others require large format negative film be inserted onto a glass pane inside the camera. Through these items, one can trace the history and development of the camera as well as the family’s specialized interest.

The Byrd Williams Family Collection is valuable for its historic subject matter as well as its artistic merit. The use of photographic processes and techniques unique to each photographer—from mammoth plate negatives to family snap shots—tell the story of the development of photography from a hobby to a career to an artistic pursuit within the William’s family.

Byrd Williams IV (1951-) is a Collin County College photography professor and a fourth generation photographer. This collection originated with his great grandfather, Byrd Williams, Sr. Mr. Williams sold the family business to pursue photography full-time as a fine art and to educate others. Byrd Williams IV has exhibited both stateside, with multiple solo exhibits and group shows in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, as well as internationally, in Germany. His work has been published in numerous journals and a book entitled Fort Worth’s Legendary Landmarks showcases his cityscape and architectural photography as well as that of his family members.

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