Collection Facts

Extent: 
347 items
Collection Owner:

Historical Context

Dave Edwardes, who was born in Astoria, Queens, in 1916, held a camera in his hands from a very young age. He completed his military duty during World War II as a cameraman and pressman. At one point during the war he worked in a large tent in Burma dedicated to military print production, ensuring the quality of proofs and photographs during print runs.

Edwardes moved to the East End right after the war and became immersed in the local culture. Sportfishing was exploding as a recreational pastime. Montauk became a center for this pursuit and grew into a resort. Some of the best-loved and most well-known photographs from this “golden age” of sportfishing were taken by Dave Edwardes. His byline appeared in the East Hampton Star under the pictures he submitted, along with a column he wrote about Montauk.

Familiar faces of Montaukers from the 1940s and 50s fill the photographs of Dave Edwardes: fishermen, workers at the local dude ranch, and swimmers lounging at the Surf Club. Montauk was booming, and Edwardes was hired to capture ceremonial dinners at venues like the Montauk Yacht Club, the Firehouse, and the Montauk Manor. Of all his pictures, however, Dave Edwardes believed it was his photographs of the Montauk Lighthouse that represented his finest work. In fact, Edwardes’ aerials of the Lighthouse were so popular that they were bought by postcard companies such as Tomlin of Northport.

During the period he worked in Montauk, from 1946 to the early 1960s, Edwardes was considered a promotional photographer, i.e., his photographic work was done in service to the promotion of a business, event, or product. However, after he left the area, this perception of his work began to change. His skills had been avidly sought by businesses and organizations because his photographs were gorgeous, with a precise line and tonal signature that were uniquely his own. Art collectors recognized these qualities in his work. Ultimately, Dave Edwardes’ photographs were reassessed. Not only was he considered a promotional photographer, but an art photographer, as well.

Scope of Collection

Almost 300 photographs, mostly B & W, that represent a microcosm of life in Montauk during the 1950s. There are images of sportfishing, trophy fish, and boat-captain award dinners, along with horses and livestock on the dude ranch known as Deep Hollow. Pictures of buildings, events, motels and hotels comprise the collection, along with evidence of storm damage, including the aftermath of Hurricane Carol. Edwardes’ views of the Montauk Lighthouse, and a group of aerial views, are important.