Climbing for Coconuts - Boy climbing a Coconut Tree, Lahaina, Maui
Ray Jerome Baker
DISPLAYING: 11" x 14" Giclée Art Print
Baker was born near Rockford, Illinois in 1880. From 1898 till 1903 he lived in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he studied mechanics and photography. In 1904 he moved to Eureka, California, where he ran a commercial photography studio and became a lifelong friend of Jack London. He married a local school teacher, Edith Frost, in 1906.
In February 1908, Baker visited Hawaii with his family. In August, after his return to Eureka, he was charged with taking obscene photographs, and paid a fine. In 1910 Baker moved to Honolulu with his wife and their son Earl Frost Baker.
Baker remained active as a photographer and travel lecturer until 1959. He produced thousands of photographic images as black-and-white prints, postcards and books, and as glass plates. When lecturing, Baker used hand-painted lantern slides to dramatize his presentations; he made larger hand-colored glass plates backlit with daylight when exhibited. The glass plate lantern slides and many of the photographs taken by Baker were hand-colored by his wife Edith.
Baker traveled to New Zealand and to the US mainland where he visited Mark Twain and Thomas Edison. Otherwise, he spent his time photographing the land, people and plants of Hawaii. He did commercial work for cane and pineapple plantations, and provided tourists arriving on ocean liners with mementos, mostly photographic postcards and bound books of photographs. His photographs appeared in mainstream media, including The National Geographic Magazine.
Baker wrote a memoir in 1964, titled Odyssey of a Camerman. Ray Jerome Baker died in Honolulu in October, 1972