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Bayard Wootten

December 17, 1876 - April 6, 1959


Bayard Wootten (1875–1959) was a female pioneer in the field of photography. Born in New Bern, North Carolina she began her photographic career there in 1904. Wootten’s first studio, opened circa April 1906, was attached to her home on East Front Street. During that same year Wooten received permission to photograph soldiers and activities at Camp Glenn, the North Carolina National Guard\’s newly opened summer training camp at nearby Morehead City. Wootten soon convinced her half-brother George Clarke Moulton to return to New Bern from New Hampshire to assist with her expanding business. She also persuaded the commandant to construct a \”photo hut\” on the camp, and in the process he designated Wootten \”Chief of Publicity\” making her the first female member of the NCNG.

By 1911 Wootten Studio moved to the town\’s main business district at 96 Middle Street. In 1914 she photographed the Craven County fairgrounds and surroundings from a Wright Brothers Model B airplane, possibly the first aerial photographs made by a woman. It was around this time that she changed her business name to Wootten-Moulton Studio.

Although she travelled to many eastern and southern states during different periods of her career, North Carolina served as her home base. After a successful assignment photographing the 1917 New York City Flower Show, Wootten opened a studio in the Printing Crafts Building in Manhattan. Within a few months, however, Wootten realized her true home was her native state. She returned to New Bern and began to offer a new specialty: portraits made in sitters\’ homes. During such a trip to Chapel Hill, Wootten met drama professor Frederick Koch, founder of the Carolina Playmakers. This encounter led to a mutual agreement whereby the studio would document Playmakers performances, and Koch would only pay for successful photographs. Wootten leveraged this successful arrangement into becoming the university’s official photographer for nearly three decades. She also contributed significantly to several University of North Carolina Press books. In 1928, she opened a Wootten-Moulton Studio in Chapel Hill. She then lived in Chapel Hill until 1954, returning to New Bern where she lived for the rest of her life.

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