Flashback Friday — Cheyenne Photographer Francis S. Brammar

Flashback Brammar at CNIPhoto by Brammar — In a May 6 column, Donelle Fenwick recalled the legendary news photographer Francis Brammar, “a man who played a significant role recording the history of the West for over 50 years and who died in Cheyenne late last month at age 85.”

“He was truly the dean of Wyoming press photographers. Townspeople called him ‘Bram,’ although his given name was Francis Steele Brammar. For over a half a century he viewed Cheyenne, its surrounding countryside and those who passed through this part of the state from behind a camera lens for the two local newspapers. …

“If you’ve ever visited ‘the scene,’ in Cheyenne — the fatal accident, the three-alarm fire, the big events, Cheyenne Frontier Days or sports events, you undoubtedly saw Bram. He’s the guy who got there before you did. …

“He had a shock of white hair which was always tousled — probably from spending so much time photographing the outdoors. He was slightly stooped in the shoulders — probably from spending the majority of his life bent over darkroom equipment. He rarely — and I do mean rarely — wore an overcoat, not even in a blizzard and he always sported a flamboyant tie with monogrammed letters telling you he was ‘BRAM.’ His favorite mode of transportation varied between a 1957 Chevy he called ‘Lulu Belle,’ a bicycle, a pair of ice skates and walking. With camera in tow, he considered a walk from Cheyenne to Laramie a ‘nice’ jaunt. He would jest, though, that he always maintained the good sense not to walk back home. …

“More often than not, Bram walked into a room, approached his subject, smiled, and while never uttering a word held the camera above his head, snapped one shot, turned and walked out with a perfect picture.”

Francis Brammar published more than 300,000 photographs and donated thousands of his negatives, including those on old glass plates, to the Wyoming State Archives and Museum.

“A Look Back in Time” is made possible with the help of Western History Archivist Teri Hedgpeth at the Casper College Western History Center, which is open to the public. Quotation marks surround stories as they appeared in the Casper newspapers 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago, with their original grammar, punctuation and spelling, unless otherwise noted. You can contact Corryne at corrynedrake@gmail.com.

“One Shot Brammar: The Photography of Francis S. Brammar” by Sue Castaneda for the Wyoming State Archives is available at the Wyoming State Museum.  Call 307-777-7022.

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