Join us
Orange welcome sign that reads Royal Geographical Society with IBG.

Become a member and discover where geography can take you.

Join us

Carleton Watkins is one of the most important practitioners in the history of photography, yet with relatively little public acclaim.

Perhaps best known for his sequence of images of Yosemite – which would lead to the foundation of the first national park in the U.S. – Watkins inspired later photographers such as Ansel Adams, in his pursuit of making thought-provoking, dramatic, and awe-inspiring images of the natural environment.

In the avant-garde of 19th century landscape photographers, Watkins’ aesthetic, coupled with his remarkable skills as an innovator, changed the course of photographic history. His story of early success is tinged by the way in which so much of his original work and archive were ultimately lost and his contribution overlooked. The Society is fortunate to have a sequence of Watkins’ original ‘mammoth plate’ prints which tell the story of this remarkable photographer and his passion for landscape photography.


View the exhibition

Tip: For the best experience, we recommend viewing the content below in full screen mode - press F11 on Windows (press F11 to exit) or Ctr+Cmd+F on OS X (Apple) to enter full screen mode.

Through the lens of Carleton Watkins

Having trouble viewing this online exhibition?

Try static view


Note about captions

Within the Society’s Collections there are some historical images (and image titles or captions) which are recognised as containing unacceptable forms of language, or present image content that is considered inappropriate. In such cases, as part of its Collections policy, the Society maintains access to those images and descriptors as a source of context and information for researchers, recognising that the historical language used or image subjects in themselves do not reflect the Society’s contemporary position as an organisation wholly committed to principles of equality and diversity.

RGS Print Store

Selected images featured in this online exhibition can be purchased from the RGS Print Store.

Visit Print Store