The Byrd Williams family photography collection documents four generations of Texas photographers with the earliest images from this collection dating back to the 1880s and with the most recent work coming from Byrd Williams IV. All four generations of photographers in the Williams family have been known as Byrd Moore Williams.
The Williams family's interest in photography started with Byrd, Sr., in the form of family portrait photography. Byrd Williams, Sr. operated a hardware store in Gainesville which sold cameras. Early prints were developed in a darkroom in the family's home. Byrd, Jr., known as Byrd II, who studied at the University of Texas (1905-1907), worked as an engineer, expanding on the family tradition by incorporating imagery in forms other than portraiture, which included landscapes and city scenery.
Byrd Williams III (1913-1986), continuing the family's legacy, became the first to delve into a full-time photography profession when he opened Byrd Photo in Fort Worth in the 1950s. Prior to this, Byrd Williams III worked for Kodak and several other photography companies in addition to being involved in lense manufacturing. The Williams family photography business also included a portrait studio. Along with these studio portraits, customers could have a photograph painted over in oils, giving it the appearance of a painting - or oil paintings, based on these photographs, would be created by Byrd's wife, Doris Williams. Charles Williams, Byrd's brother, was also affiliated with the company.
Byrd Williams III also explored photography on his own terms as a fine art. Through his images, he documented street scenes and the people of Fort Worth, which was developing rapidly in the mid-20th century. Many of his black and white images during the 1930s and 1940s are rich narratives of varied subject matter, showing a confidence both in approach to composition and emotive content. With the work of Byrd Williams III, we see photography develop into a unique way of making a personal statement. This is carried on in another way through the work of his son, Byrd Williams IV.
In the photographs of Byrd Williams IV (1951- ), we see the work of an artist. Mr. Williams, a prolific, exhibiting photographer, who has shown in the United States and abroad, is the first in his family to seriously pursue a career aside from the commercial aspect of photography. Williams, a Collin County College professor, also shares his ideas and knowledge of photography to show others its purpose and application as a fine art medium. Fort Worth's Legendary Landmarks is one of many publications in which the work of Byrd Williams IV has appeared. He is a frequent contributor to D Magazine, in addition to having work appearing in exhibition catalogs such as Ortsbeschreibungen and Focus Trier.