John Ray Koontz lived on his family’s farm, Elmwood, outside Bremen, his entire life, June 9, 1874 to November 22, 1947. Named for his Uncle John who passed away the day he was born, Koontz had ten siblings and never married or had any children. A printer by trade, he kept busy on the farm and pursued his many interests.
Beginning in the 1890s, Koontz created some fascinating photographs, combining natural talent with technical skill and an interest in broader cultural ideas. His photos evolved over time with camera technology and art trends. On the backs of many of his early prints, Koontz recorded what was going on behind the scenes, noting the position of the sun, if he was in the shade and the type of camera he used.
This attention to detail was combined with a heartfelt connection to his subject matter, often family, friends or farm scenes, and informed by his keen interest in the larger world of ideas. Koontz seems to have kept up with changing camera technology and artistic trends in photography, from his earliest photos into the 1920s. As you explore the photographs below, note how these changes are reflected in his pictures.
Looking for more? Stop into the Museum to see J.R. Koontz’s photographs in person, learn about his influences, life, and how his work changed over time. The Museum is located at 123 N Michigan St., Plymouth, Indiana. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.