Time and I

Time and I

The following online citation for the American amateur photographer Helen Plummer Gatch appears on the Oregon Historical Society Research Library website:

Helen Plummer Gatch (1861-1942) was born in Alton, Illinois, to Dr. Orlando P.S. Plummer, who moved to Portland, Ore. with his three daughters in 1864 after the death of their mother. As a young woman, Helen taught school before her marriage to Claud Gatch (born 1859), a banker who served as mayor of Salem, Or. from 1893-1896. They had two children, Orytha “Ryth” (born 1886) and Thomas Leigh “Tam” (1891-1954).
Helen Gatch, an ambitious amateur photographer, used her domestic life and her children as subjects for her pictorial photography, but also appears to have done documentary photographs during the 1890s, including one of the Oregon Insane Asylum in Salem. Although she did not construct stage sets for her photographs as other pictorialists did, Gatch used composition, costuming, and titles to pictorialize her subjects and to produce Dutch genre images. One example is “Romeo and Juliet” (Oregon Historical Society negative number CN004533), made in 1891, showing Ryth and Asahel Bush, Jr., playing Shakespeare at the Bush family home in Salem. This image was frequently reproduced and exhibited. Gatch used prominent Salem homes and friends as sets and models for her pictorial photography. She also photographed at the family summer house on the Oregon Coast near Newport.
Gatch made her mark at the local, regional, and national levels with winning contest entries and acceptance of her work into salons at San Francisco and Philadelphia. She joined the Salon Club (which opposed the Photo-Secessionists) and was involved in the organization of the Federation of American Photographic Societies in 1904. Her work was shown in the first American Photographic Salon later that year in New York, and it came to Portland the following year as the first show at the new Portland Art Museum. Gatch served on the committee for the second American Salon and on the jury for the third. She also was active in the Oregon Camera Club.
The Gatch family moved to California in 1912, and Helen died in Oakland on January 11, 1942.  (1.)

1. Helen Plummer Gatch photographs collection, Org. Lot 32, Oregon Historical Society Research Library. (accessed: 2012)

Time and I

Image Dimensions16.4 x 10.0 cm April

Support Dimensions24.9 x 17.1 cm (uncut)