The DeWalt Studio and Camera Shop
Various Locations on Main St.

Clarence DeWalt (1902-1995)

DeWalt Studio & Camera Shop Logo, 1950s

Clarence DeWalt was probably Helena's most prolific photographer of the 20th century. He took thousands of student portraits over the decades, along with a great many special occasion photographs. He was known for his distinctive radio ads, a sample of which may be heard by clicking on the radio below. Audio courtesy of Wally Peel...

DeWalt Studio & Camera Shop Radio Ad

Born in Vermillion, Kansas in 1902, Clarence was married to Gail Meagher DeWalt (1908-2005) who worked in various stenographic, secretarial and administrative positions in Montana state government. Clarence had a son, Richard (1933-1986), from a previous marriage. The DeWalts resided at 1 Washington Place for many years.

DeWalt was something of a community activist, and was involved in several local organizations. He was one of the most vocal critics of the closing of Main Street to automobile traffic during the "Urban Renewal" period of the 1970s.

Opened Studio in the Union Bank Building, 2 North Main


Service in WWII

1953 Action to Restrict Competition
in the Photography Business

In 1953, Clarence was President of the State Board of the Examiners in Photography. It's hard to believe now, but you then had to have a license to take photos for money. Of course, the practical piurpose of the licensing board was to limit professional competition.

In early 1953, the board filed a criminal case against unlicensed photographer Everett A. Esterby for operating a studio in the Securities Building on Main Street. In November of '53, a District Judge found the law under which the examiners operated to be unconstitutional, and an abuse of police power.

Esterby (1913-1973)


Everett Esterby's studio in Helena apparently went out of business in 1957. He and his wife moved to Great Falls in that year, where he went into business with photographer Clark Hough, specializing in student portraits.He died in 1973.

DeWalt Studio Moves to South Main at Broadway
(probably 12 South Main), 1954



Active in the Exchange Club



Studio Moves to 28 North Main, 1959

DeWalt's Storefront and Sign, 1961
Courtesy of Robert M. Fry


DeWalt Studio, 28 North Main, Seen on the Left, late 1960s

DeWalt sold his photography business in 1984, but remained active. You may read his 1995 obituary here (PDF file).