Floyd and Nellie Richerson
Smithers' Photographer Couple
Floyd and Nellie Richerson stopped in the Bulkley Valley while on a road trip and decided never to leave. The couple opened up a photography studio in Smithers and left behind over 400 portraits of the community's residents from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Floyd Ray Richerson and Nellie Aline Richerson (nee Hollowell) were both born and raised in Denison, Texas. The two childhood sweethearts eloped to Oklahoma in 1937 and went on to have five children: James, Donna, Jane, Margaret, and Joyce. During the Second World War, Nellie worked at a cotton mill while Floyd joined the marines as a reserve. Rather than being sent overseas, he was kept on as a machinist for the American military.
In 1951, the Richersons set out on a family road trip spanning the North American continent from Texas to Alaska. Nearing the end of their journey, they stopped to fish in the Bulkley Valley and soon fell in love with it. After extending their stay in the area again and again, they eventually decided to settle down in Smithers. Floyd opened a machinery shop where he built and repaired parts for local companies. The couple also began planning to open their own photography studio.
Richerson Studio officially opened on 4th Avenue in 1954. At some point, the couple also opened a camera shop. According to the Interior News, Nellie Richerson had a great deal of experience in the photography business even before coming to Smithers. Richerson Studio was active throughout the 1950s, 60s, and at least the first half of the 70s. Advertisements for it disappear from the Interior News after 1976, and it was likely closed by the time Nellie retired in the early 1980s. Floyd Richerson passed away in Smithers in 2013; he was predeceased by Nellie, sometime before 2011.
The Richerson Studio fonds are a recent acquisition by the Bulkley Valley Museum, having been donated in the summer of 2019. This wonderful collection of several hundred high-quality portraits provides a very formal look at the individuals, families, and weddings of mid-20th-century Smithers - presented both in black-and-white and in colour. Many of the people in their photos remain unidentified - take a look in our gallery and let us know if you recognize any of them!