George Barker, the Premier Photographer of Niagara Falls

By Samuel Phineas Upham

The milky, fluid waterfall cascades over Niagara Falls in the majestic nature photography of George Barker. Affectionately referred to as “the eminent photographer of Niagara Falls” at the time of his death, Barker was born in London, Ontario. He was interested in photography from an early age, studying under James Egan, and opened his own studio by the age of 18.

His first studio was in London, but he relocated to Niagara Falls one year later. He’d received a job offer from Platt D. Babbitt. His work was concentrated almost exclusively in large format, which is what made his photography so exclusive and rare. He was known for taking sweeping shots of Niagara Falls. The area has long attracted artists for its beauty, but he was one of the first, along with Platt D. Babbitt, to photograph it at a large scale.

Barker was primarily a Stereoview photographer. Stereoscopy is a method photographers utilize to try and express depth through binocular vision, so two images are presented to the eyes individually.

Unfortunately, much of Barker’s work was lost in a fire during 1870. His negatives survived the fire, but his stereographic prints were incinerated.

Barker is also known as one of the earliest photographers to explore and shoot Florida, which is significant considering the terrain and conditions. Florida swamplands are humid and warm, tough places to be when you have delicate film canisters and lots of equipment to lug around. For four years, Barker toughed through those conditions to document North and South Florida, leaving the state just four years before his death in 1894.


Samuel Phineas Uphamis an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Samual Phineas Upham website or Linkedin page.