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Harris, Leo
b. February 5, 1897; d. February 1962
Discipline: Photography

Leo Harris was born in Booneville, Missouri and in 1906, at the age eight or nine, he moved with his parents to North Dakota, settling west of the Killdeer Mountains.

Known in North Dakota as the “Cowboy Photographer,” he began his career studying his art at a school in Chicago. He worked as a press photographer for the Chicago Tribune and the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph before hanging a shingle in Killdeer, where he worked as a freelance photographer.

Often donning a wide-brimmed hat and carrying his view camera like a six-shooter, he made several photographs of ranch life and other “cowboy” scenes. His photographs of wildlife are unlike anything else of the type. Antelope, moose, foxes, coyotes, owls, and others were not photographed “in action” as wildlife often is. Instead, Harris’ subjects seem relaxed and often stare right at the camera, so photogenic that one almost expects the animals to smile.

Eventually, Harris moved to Livingston, Montana, where he died in 1962 after a long illness.

- Ben Nemenoff


Obituary. Minot Daily News, February 15, 1962.

Other Sources:

North Dakota Resource File: Biography, North Dakota State Library

*Images courtesy of the State Historical Society of North Dakota (#A3184 and #C1483).

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