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Bluffton's first "selfie"

Will Triplett, pioneer village photographer took this photo of himself;

he used a cable connected to the shutter of his camera

Few Bluffton businesspersons can surpass Will A. Triplett’s achievements in business. For 53 years he took photographs in Bluffton. As a mark of respect, during his funeral, Bluffton businesses closed their doors. The Meter Works, the major employer in town, also closed.

Details of his career following from his obituary published in the Bluffton News. This was written in a well-crafted manner by C.A. “Ted” Biery, editor, who himself had many achievements in his profession as Bluffton’s weekly newspaper editor from 1914 to 1952, a period of 38 years.

During his 53 years in business, Will A. Triplett came in contact with successive generations and his photographs of individuals and groups predominate in homes throughout this section. He was the only Bluffton man whose business continued for a half century without change in the name or management.

His career reflected the development of the town as well as that of his profession. Highlights in Bluffton’s progress within the last 50 years as well as the personnel during that time who were active in guiding the town’s destiny are mirrored in the work of his studio.

In his chosen vocation, Mr. Triplett was a recognized leader. He brought credit to his profession in both a national and local way through his ability and long experience. He served as an official in the Ohio, Michigan and Indiana Photographers Association and gained national recognition in this and other organizations. His faith in his calling was exemplified by the equipment of his studio, complete in every detail and including the latest approved apparatus of his art.

The present modern studio is a far step from his first quarters in Bluffton when the photographic art was in its infancy. Those were the days when the ferrotype or tintype was being replaced by the modern method of printing on paper from a glass negative.

It was necessary in those days for the photographer to be his own manufacturing chemist, making both the plates for the negative and the paper, which made up the finished photograph. This required the preparation mixing and application of the various chemicals involved.

See bottom of story for details on this photo

Born in Newark

Born in Newark, Ohio, March 26, 1861, his photographic career began at age 16. He arrived in Bluffton on New Year’s Day 1881. For the first two months his studio was located on North Main Street, near Riley Street, just south of the present Gulf filling station. After that time it was moved to the Herr block in the frame building above the present location of Bluffton Implement and Harness Company.

In 1926 the studio was moved to its present location on the second floor of the Triplett block, which he constructed in 1900. Soon after his location in Bluffton he was married to Mabel Spooner of Plain City, Ohio. To this union were born three sons: Morris, who preceded his father in death in 1908 at Bocas del Toro, Panama; Ray L. and Cleon A. Triplett, both of this place. Mabel died in 1889.

Afterward he married Emma Hettinger who also preceded him in death in 1904. Later he married Leona Amstutz Triplett who survives.

During his long residence here Mr. Triplett was active in the growth and development of the town, having served as corporation clerk and also on the council as well as in other capacities, which had to do with the welfare of the community. Of a genial and cheerful nature, he had many friends by whom he was respected and esteemed.

Besides his widow and two sons, seven grandchildren survive him: Margaret, Morris, Ropp and Barbara Triplett and Norman, Dorothy and Betty Triplett.

This is a another self-portrait.

Like a true photographer, Triplett wrote details about the photo at the bottom of the print:

Eastman 5x7 par speed portrait film and Vitava C paper Victor Cabinet - 2 grains Victor “soft” power

Packard instantaneous shutter - Dallmeyer 2A lens at F 4 Stipple-flattened with Southworth Stipple-flattening machine.


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