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Meet the men behind the historic Russell Brothers photographs

In 1880, a dapper eccentric with a Wild West beard and a dramatic flair named Ben Wittick opened a photography studio in the New Mexico territory town of Sante Fe. With him was his apprentice, a young Tennessean named Robert Wiley Russell.

They migrated a year later to Albuquerque, choosing a storefront on Gold Avenue not far from the center of town. Over four years, that partnership — known as “Wittick & Russell” on signs and advertisements — created many of today’s enduring images of the American West, photographs of Native Americans and black-and-white panoramas of the Western territories’ expansive desert-brown lands.

R.W. Russell
S.A. Russell

S.A. Russell

Russell Brothers

One of the historic Russell Brothers panoramic photos at Lance Johnson Studio in Anniston. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Russell Brothers Studio

Russell Brothers Studio on Noble Street in downtown Anniston.

Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson, owner of Lance Johnson Studio in Anniston, with a panoramic photograph of the remains of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba, in 1898, taken during the Spanish-American War by R.W. Russell.

Russell Brothers camera

The old camera used in the Russell Brothers Studio in Anniston, which became home to Lance Johnson Studio in 1942.

Phillip Tutor — — is a Star columnist. Follow him at