About the Last Photographers Book Series

Series Introduction

For centuries, extraordinary individuals have made their living by documenting the lives of others, for generations to see. The earliest photographers utilized their hand and eye, not a computer, to manipulate the photo. With the cost of large format cameras, tedious set-up of cumbersome instruments, thoughtful composure and lengthy exposures, and the use of poisonous chemicals when developing, photographers were forced to better visualize and carefully plan images. However, like steam engines, shoe cobblers, and drive-in theaters, this type of photography is obsolete.

1-coverSome of the earliest camera designs were written about in the fourth century by philosophers such as Aristotle, when he incorporated the idea of pinhole photography while viewing a partial solar eclipse. During the 1500s, artists Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci used Boyle and Hooke’s Camera Obscura to reflect colored images on surfaces, to assist them in sketching. The famous View from a Window at Le Gras, taken in 1826 by Nicephore Niepce, is the earliest known photograph. It required an eight-hour exposure, and washing with lavender oil and toxic chemicals to preserve the image. Louis Daguerre then collaborated with Niepce, and in 1837, the birth of practical photography was born with daguerreotype processing. Harsh chemicals, such as silver nitrate, and iodine and mercury vapors, were used in the development, and exposure times decreased to several minutes.

Though not world-renowned, Finley Taylor was a master photographer and philosopher of the human spirit. Upon the arrival of the 20th century, Finley lugged his 5X7 Rochester field camera through rugged terrain, documenting the activity of those who existed and toiled in the Allegheny forests during the logging era in Richwood, West Virginia. Also an accomplished studio photographer, he understood lighting intimately, and capturing the true essence of his subjects was his gift. For half a century, he saw inside the souls of those he photographed, exposing their hidden passions and fears. In Last Photographers: Finley Taylor, his timeless images, with amusing and heartwarming anecdotes, brings to light a time that has been buried deep in the mountains of West Virginia.

When we look back at photographs from yesteryear, it’s those printed pieces of paper that were once young and vibrant, and the stories that accompany them will preserve their existence. These images take us back to a place in our lives that were the best (or worst) days, which we can always revisit with a photo.

Toward the end of this volume of work by Finley Taylor, another musty box of his negatives were discovered. These images, hidden for 100 years, have only been seen by his subjects when taken. These photos are believed to be his earliest work, when Finley was honing his craft, paving the way for some of the best images taken during the 20th century. These new images will be showcased in another volume of Last Photographers: Finley Taylor.

Also in forthcoming volumes of Last Photographers, read about other brilliant photographers, such as famed editor of West Virginia Hillbilly, Jim Comstock, whose skill and artistry reveal a golden age in history.

Meet the Authors

MarkRomano 6-wide 300dpi

Mark Romano

Mark Romano is owner of Images by Romano, which houses the largest private portrait park in West Virginia, specializing in high school senior portraits and offering photography courses. He has also published many pictorial books, such as the acclaimed Brooks Run: We Mine Coal, and Heroes Among Us for the WV Veterans Legacy project. He served as photographer and videographer for the Josh Stewart movie, The Hunted, and his coal photo exhibit has been on display at TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia. He has received awards from Professional Photographers of America and Professional Photographers of West Virginia for his work. Recently, Mark published History of Webster County High School – 1974 – 2015, and pictorials for Richwood, Cowen, and Nicholas County high schools in West Virginia. Mark lives in West Virginia with his wife and two sons, where he continues publishing the Last Photographers series. You may visit his websites at www.lastphotographers.com, www.imagesbyromano.com, or www.publishingbyromano.com


Anne Johnson

Raised in the scenic mountains of West Virginia, Anne Johnson is a landscape photographer, capturing images of the rural countryside and rarely seen waterfalls from the rugged Dolly Sods Wilderness Area in West Virginia. Also an avid storm chaser, her lightning photography exposes the stately mountains and rolling landscapes of West Virginia by harnessing the ominous beauty of lightning. Anne is a photojournalist, and her articles and photographs have been featured in Goldenseal Magazine, Wonderful West Virginia Magazine, and Daytripper Magazine. She is also a juried photographer for TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia. Awards include first place in the 2015 West Virginia Lightning Photography competition, and her Derecho lightning strike was showcased in The Weather Channel’s It’s Amazing Out There weather competition. Anne lives in West Virginia and is a writing instructor, and writer for the Last Photographers series. You may visit her website at www.annejohnsonimages.com.