Taking it Outdoors – 1890s
By 1892, Sallows had enlarged his business to include the studio of local photographer George Stewart. With the help of his assistant, Thomas Brophy, Sallows successfully ran two studios in Goderich across the town Square from each other. Several years later, however, Brophy purchased this second studio from Sallows and began his own successful business.
Sallows’ new assistant, E. Seaton McCully, took employment with Sallows in 1895. A photographer and fine artist, Seaton had studied in Paris and worked in New York and Toronto before arriving in Goderich. Seaton took charge of the photographic and art studios of R.R. Sallows, introducing the availability of art classes and affording Sallows the opportunity to focus on his own photographic adventures.
Technological advancements during this decade brought about very notable changes in the way that photography could be made available to the public. Special interest and trade magazines featuring photographic images were now all the rage. Photographic art was no longer limited to the portrait studio.
Realizing this, Sallows forsakes the “frozen” photograph of the studio and takes his camera outdoors. An 1896 advertisement in the Goderich Signal reads “Outdoor photography is an art. Few possess it. Sallows is one of the few. Have your dwellings, farms and farm buildings photographed while summer lasts.”
During a photography session on Lake Huron in the summer of 1897, Sallows captured an image that would bring about a remarkable change in his career. This notable photograph of a girl and a young woman posed on a huge rock by the lakeside, titled “Afar o’er the waters a sail I see! What are the tidings it brings to me?” was successfully promoted to several important publications across North America, including the Buffalo Express, the Toronto Globe, and the St. Louis and Canadian Photographer. Sallows’ commercial career had been launched.
The same year, Sallows had approached the leading printing trade’s journal in North America, The Island Printer, with twelve images that he believed worthy of sale. The publication accepted ten of the twelve images and provided the photographer with a cheque for fifty dollars – five dollars per print. This sum of money was ten times that which he would normally receive for one image from his portraiture work. Sallows acknowledged that “this was the first money I had ever received for any commercial work and it certainly woke me up.”
Sallows continued to enjoy other professional successes in his career, including gold prize awards, for his “child studies” also merit awards for portraits, views and an exhibit of flash light media, from the Canadian Photographers Convention and numerous other awards in regional competitions. The artist had clearly defined himself as a photographer who was top of his class in the nation.