Specializing in commercial portraits, Frank A. Rinehart (1861–1928) opened a studio in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1886. Commissioned by the government, in 1898 he became the official photographer of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha, which included an Indian Congress. Working with his assistant Adolf Muhr (who later worked for Edward S. Curtis), Rinehart set up a studio and gallery at the exposition. Because Rinehart was occupied with recording other exposition events, it is likely that Muhr made many of the nearly 500 portraits of Indians attending the Congress. The delegates were photographed in a studio on the Exposition grounds with an 8 x 10 in. glass-negative camera with a German lens. Platinum prints were produced to achieve the broad range of tonal values that medium afforded. After the Indian Congress, Rinehart and Muhr traveled to Indian reservations for two years, portraying Native American leaders who had not attended the event, as well as depicting general aspects of the indigenous everyday life and culture.
Rinehart and Muhr's dramatic photographs are sensitive portraits of individual Native Americans, and not the impersonal ethnographic studies often produced by earlier photographers.
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