And here is one of Chapin Bowen’s amazing glass plate negative street portraits, undated but likely from the mid 1920’s(license plate is 1926). The easy rider is identified by the photographer as a driver for the Tacoma Times, but the sign on the rear fender and the dashing wardrobe suggest he may be a thrill seeker dare devil type guy on a long distance ride posing for a little publicity. Whatever the story, its the sharp lines and crisp contrast of the black and white image that makes an impression along with the striking composition, expression and watery background focus. 1926 was the year H.C.Weaver Studios made the silent film Eyes of the Totem in Tacoma, probably shooting on the same street we see behind the motorcyclist and his bike. There was a theatricality to Tacoma in those days and this image seems to capture some of that mood and disposition, the way Dennis Hopper created a time capsule for the 60’s as Billy in Easy Rider.
Washington State Historical Society; 1957.19.26677, Call Number: 1943.42.26677