William Pennington born in 1874 in Kentucky, Pennington began photographing at a young age, working in any photo studio that would allow him. In his early twenties, he opened a studio of his own in Texas. Despite his success, he longed to experience the West firsthand. In 1902, Pennington met Lisle Updike, another photographer who had been photographing Western landscapes and indigenous peoples for several years. From then on, the two collaborated, travelled together, and jointly opened several studios.
In 1917, Will Evans, a trader in Shiprock, New Mexico, contacted Pennington and Updike to photograph the Navajo people in the area. With an influx of white settlers, Navajo culture was constantly compromised, gradually becoming diluted and in danger of disappearing. Even though the images depict staged scenes, either outdoors near Shiprock and Chuska or in Evans’ Trading post, they are vital documents of a time and people. (Taken from the show statement provided by the CU Art Museum.)