Fred H. Reed was born in Wisconsin in1861 (or 1860 according to some sources). Displaying artistic abilities at an early age, he pursued a career in photography after completing his public schooling. After working as a photographer in several cities throughout the Midwest, Mr. Reed married Mabelle Downey in Illinois in 1896. The couple would later have a son and a daughter. Six years' later, the family settled in Wichita and became manager of the Baldwin Studio, one of the earliest photographic galleries in the region. Within a few years, he established his own studio at 118 E. Douglas Ave. In 1911, William "Fred" Baldwin was forced to retire for health reasons, and sold his studio to Mr. Reed, which he subsequently consolidated with his existing studio
Mr. Reed not only proved himself to be a successful portraitist, but was also an innovative marketer and advertiser. For example, on the opening day of baseball season (Wichita's most popular pastime), he erected a large signs on the grounds during the game, which read, one at a time, "Fred H. Reed", "Photographer", "Portraits Only". This inexpensive advertising gimmick introduced his studio to 4,000 baseball fans and potential customers. Mr. Reed was also an astute businessman, wisely limiting his competition by associating himself with another local photographer, Harry Pottenger, doing business as the Reed-Pottenger studio on 122 N. Market St. Like Mr. Pottenger, Mr. Reed was a proponent of Artura prints for their rich tones that could be easily reproduced without diminishing their quality. Featured in a 1918 issue of Studio Light, Mr. Reed was credited with increasing the popularity of photography through pleasing "clean cut, bread and butter portraits." A believer in a strong photographic community, Mr. Reed was actively involved in sharing his business strategies and artistic approaches with his contemporaries. Along with his partner Mr. Pottenger, he encouraged fledgling photographers to price their works in proportion to their quality to achieve mutual satisfaction for customers and proprietors alike.
After Harry Pottenger sold his interest in the N. Market St. studio in 1920, Mr. Reed entered a partnership with Wichita Beacon cartoonist O. R. Wertz. When not overseeing his growing business, he was active in several organizations including the Kansas Photographers' Club and the Camera Craft Club of America. In later years, he operated a gallery with his son Amos at 137 N. Broadway St. Seventy-two-year-old Fred H. Reed died at his Wichita home on November 20, 1933. Amos Reed continued successfully operating the studio for several years afterwards.
1920 Abel's Photographic Weekly, Vol. XXV (Cleveland, OH: Abel Publishing Company), p. 607.
1922 Bulletin of Photography, Vol. XXXI (Philadelphia: Frank V. Chambers), p. 633.
2015 Dr. Edward N. Tihen's Notes from Wichita Newspapers: Wichita State University Libraries' Department of Special Collections (URL: http://specialcollections.wichita.edu/collections/local_history/tihen/pdf/People&Places/reed_fred.pdf).
1928 History of Kansas, State and People: Kansas at the First Quarter Post of the Twentieth Century, Vol. IV, by William Elsey Connelley (Chicago, IL: American Historical Society), p. 1761.
2015 Kansas Memory: Kansas Historical Society (URL: http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/213363).
1916 Photo-Era, Vol. XXXVI (Boston: Photo-Era Magazine), p. 50.
1918 Studio Light: A Magazine of Information for the Profession (Rochester, NY: Eastman Kodak Company), pp. 6-7.
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera