The Photographers: B. L. H. Dabbs
B. L. H. Dabbs, the leading photographer in Pennsylvania, was born in London in 1839. While he was still a child, his parents came to this country. His father, George Dabbs, was one of the pioneers of the photographic supply trade in America, being first a member of the firm of L. Chapman & Co., of New York, and, subsequent to 1856, senior partner in the firm of George Dabbs & Co., of Philadelphia. Thus the young B. L. H. Dabbs early became conversant with the details of the business in which he has since taken such a high place.
Mr. Dabbs came to Pittsburg in 1861, and opened a store for the sale of ambrotype and photographic supplies. In the same year he purchased the gallery of a Mr. Rorah, Nos. 90 and 92 Federal Street, Allegheny, and entered the field of artistic photography. His work was a revelation to the people of Pittsburg and vicinity, and commanded prompt appreciation.
In 1864, Mr. Dabbs removed to Pittsburg, and established the largest photograph gallery in the State at 46 and 48 Sixth Street. So rapidly did the demand for his photographs increase that, in 1869, he sold out his business as a dealer in photographic materials. Since then he has devoted all his time and talents to the taking of portraits and the development of the photographic art.
In 1876, he removed to his present quarters at 602 Liberty Street. There he has gathered around him a corps of operators and auxiliary artists not excelled in the country. Mr. Dabbs is thus enabled to turn out pictures unrivalled in the two cities for their striking, truthful and singularly artistic character. He has the rare gift of discerning the most natural expression of his subjects, and his manner inspires confidence.
Mr. Dabbs is quick to adopt the latest inventions, and experimental study has always had his closest attention. He stands among photographers, as with the public, in excellent repute; his energy is unabating, and clientage is his constantly increasing.
He resides with his family in a handsome mansion on Hiland Avenue, East End, where he has one of the finest art libraries in the city.
From All Sorts of Pittsburgers: Sketched in Prose and Verse by Arthur G. Burgoyne, 1892.