A celebration of the Howard K. Watkins Photographic Archive Project is planned Sunday, June 13, at California State University, Fresno’s Henry Madden Library, which is the archive’s new home.
Watkins has been photographing in the region since 1973 and his collection has grown to more than 210,000 images, more than half of them on film before he switched to digital cameras in 2004. His 70 themed photo boards will be on display at the reception.
Watkins was an attorney with Fresno County Legal Services for more than 12 years before joining the County Counsel’s office from which he retired in 2007. Photography has been his avocation since junior high school.
In the spirit of Pop Laval, who photographed a variety of subjects through much of the early 20th century, Watkins has photographed the region’s buildings, people, events and scenery, recording activities, celebrities, organizations and everyday residents.
He has been designated photo laureate by the city and county of Fresno for providing a community service through his photography, which also has won numerous awards.
Watkins also is an active member of the community. He has received the Fresno County Bar Association’s Bernie Witkin Lifetime Achievement Award, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award from the city of Fresno, and a Commendation from the Legion of Valor Museum.
Influenced by the historic Pop Laval Photographic Archive Collection and encouraged by others, Watkins partnered with the Madden Library and Fresno Regional Foundation to raise money to digitize his photographic collection. The goal was to make the images a database that the public could access online.
Watkins expects it will take another 10+ years to index the entire archive, which continues to grow with his images taken at new events.
ABC-30 news anchor Nancy Osborne will emcee the June 13 hosted reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Speakers include Peter McDonald, dean of Library Services at Fresno State; Elizabeth Laval, curator of the Pop Laval Photographic Archive; and Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian.
Honorary co-chairs are Laval, McDonald, Larry Balakian, Hal Bolen II, Coke and James Hallowell, each active in community service, and Dr. Peter G. Mehas, a California State University trustee and chair Fresno State’s Centennial Committee.
Parking is available in Lots D and E, which are closest to the library and accessible from Shaw Avenue via Barton Avenue. RSVP to 559.264.2619.
For more information or to view Watkins’ photographs, visit www.watkinsphotoarchive.com.