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A Commercial Career – 1900s

By the turn of the century, Sallows’ career as a commercial photographer was clearly on its way. In 1903, The Inland Printer, the leading publication of its kind in North America, published eight of Sallows’ photographs, including: Evening at the Harbour, Where Lake and River Meet, On Huron’s Shores (at Menesetung looking towards Points Farms), Why the Butter Doesn’t Come, Some Pumpkins, I Feel Funny to my Toes, and Hard Pressed.

Sallows’ new, and much more lucrative, ventures had certainly offered him the opportunity to expand his career which had, until now, kept him close to home and studio. Sallows writes, “if the picture loving public valued my work so highly that they were willing to pay me $60 per dozen, I would be foolish to confine myself to portrait work alone”. A local publication reports, in 1903, that the photographer was “constantly in receipt of orders” from publishing firms in Toronto and the States for his commercial work. Sallows’ work was now promoted and sold to high profile publications around the world.

“We used to call them photographs but now the skill of the artist occupies such a large part of the beauty of the result that we will have to call them Sallowsgraphs”, advertises Sallows in 1903.

An astute businessman, Sallows recognized the importance of keeping a healthy local trade, and he continued to keep his studio open during his travels to meet the needs of his local clients. Early in the century, Sallows had founded his infamous “Baby Day”, a yearly tradition in which he would invite local families to have their young children photographed at no charge. It is reported that local families lined up for hours to benefit from the renowned photographer’s generous community spirit.

Much of the demand for Sallows’ work during this decade was for his agrarian scenes. Sallows advertised locally for the opportunity to take pictures of farm life such as “some herds of fat cattle” and “droves of fat sheep”. Farmers who could afford him the opportunity were encouraged to address him at his studio.

During Thanksgiving in 1908, the entire front page of the Montreal Standard featured an image of a man with a turkey on his shoulder. His work was also featured in farming publications such as the New York State College of Agriculture, The Farmers’ Advocate, and Country Life Reader, as well as a number of government publications featuring farm life in the Province of Ontario and Canada.

By 1908, Sallows’ list of clients included The Grand Trunk Railway, Colliers Weekly, and many publishing firms in the US, Great Britain and on the continent. In February, 1909, he travelled for two weeks in Northern Ontario working for a US magazine and newspaper syndicate, as well as the Graphic Photo Union of London, England.

In 1909, Busy Man’s Magazine referred to Sallows as “Canada’s photographic genius” praising him for his ability to capture his subjects with “entire abstinence of that restraint posing of stiffness”. In this same publication, Sallows himself stated “I strive to take people unawares, in their natural mood or setting”. Sallows unique style had set him apart from others in the trade, as his numerous awards and commissions would prove.


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