Harriet Hunt Bryan
About the Photographer
Harriet Hunt Bryan was born December 30, 1854 in the old John Morse House in Leete’s Island, the daughter of Lucy Ann Norton and James M. Hunt, who were the proprietors of the acclaimed “Guilford Point House” hotel.
She attended Guilford schools and received her higher education at the finishing school “Saint Mary’s Hall” in Burlington, New Jersey. Harriet Bryan’s son, Scott M . Bryan, Jr., believed that his mother had her first introduction to photography at this school. Later, she took photography lessons in Hartford. Harriet was a sociable young woman whose photo hobby was encouraged by her father and which enabled her to travel extensively. She was active in school, civic, and church affairs.
After Harriet’s marriage to Scott M. Bryan, Sr. in 1886, she helped with the management of another family hotel in Wilmington, North Carolina, returning to Guilford to raise her children. Until 1914, when she moved to 196 Whitfield Street in the village center, the Leete’s Island homestead was her winter residence.
Harriet Hunt Bryan will long be remembered for her high quality black and white views around Guilford Green. Her venture into photography spans the period from 1884 to 1887, and was strictly a hobby.
Her darkroom at Leete’s Island was set up in a pantry near the back stairs. Scott, her husband, cut window glass panes for plate negatives, sizes 3.5 x 3.5” to 5 x 8”, and Harriet coated them chemically.
Her tripod camera had no shutter release. The method was to pre-focus the image on ground glass, estimate the density of lighting, remove the lens cap while counting aloud "1, 2, 3" and then replace the lens cap. Her negatives were hand developed and contact printed.