“Fine portraits of prominent persons have been a tradition at the Stout-Feldman photographic studio for 73 years,” claimed the El Paso Herald Post in July 1968. Founded in 1895 by California native Fred J. Feldman, the Feldman Studio thrived in El Paso during the 1910s and 1920s. Feldman was particularly well known in El Paso for his skill in portraiture. In 1895 Feldman leased the El Paso photographic business of Bushong Studio, since its owner decided to leave town and study photography on the east coast. After buying the Bushong business out, Feldman’s studio became the premier photographic business in El Paso. Feldman photographed many prominent businessmen, bankers, judges, mayors, and attorneys as well as society women and community groups. In 1916 Fred J. Feldman was written up by a national magazine called the Bulletin of Photography, which described his portraits as “direct and unhesitating in handling,…they are complete expressions of character, forceful and truthful, without any overstatement.” Feldman was also one of the official photographers of El Paso’s institution of higher learning, the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy (now UTEP) from about 1914 until his passing in 1923.
In 1916 the president of the Illinois Photographic Association, Samuel Stout, came to El Paso to manage the Feldman Studio. For years, the Feldman studio was located on San Antonio Avenue in downtown El Paso. After taking over the Feldman Studio in 1924, Stout designed a Spanish-style building for the photographic business at 1330 Montana Street. Following Samuel Stout’s takeover of the photographic business in 1924, the photography studio bore the name “Stout-Feldman Studio.” The studio continued to take yearly photographs of students and organizations at the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy well into the 1930s. In 2008 the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department at the University of Texas at El Paso acquired the Stout-Feldman photographs collection. With funding from the National Park Service’s “Save America’s Treasures” Grant Program, the UTEP Special Collections Department is preserving the collection, which includes nitrate and glass plate negatives.
This Friday (June 15, 2012) the University of Texas at El Paso Library will hold an opening reception for its Stout-Feldman Studio exhibit from 5pm-7pm. Sponsored by the Friends of the University Library and the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department, the exhibit includes photographs from the years 1910 to 1930 and is located on the Third Floor Gallery in the University Library. For more information please call the University’s Special Collections Department at 915-747-5697.
[Sources: El Paso Herald Post, September 18, 1931; El Paso Herald Post, July 4, 1968; El Paso Times, June 27, 2011.]
Bryan Winter is an assistant in the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the UTEP Library. He earned a BS in Geography from New Mexico State University, and is currently in his final year as an MA student in History at UTEP.