Daguerreotypes are one of the earliest forms of photography, popular only between 1839 and the late 1850s. It was a dusty backwater of scholars, with a minuscule number of collectors… until Dennis Waters came along. Dennis was a “people person” which did him well in his earlier career as a professional photographer. As the vast majority of daguerreotypes are of people, Dennis, as a dealer, recognized both the inherent beauty of the medium but also the mystery and intrigue of the subjects who tentatively sat for the first time to have their images immortalized on a silvered piece of copper.

In publishing his early catalogues and later online, Dennis’s descriptions of his daguerreotypes were always accurate but invariably contained his creative conjecture as to the character and personality of the person. A delight to read, like short stories, Dennis made these long ago images  come alive for a whole new generation of curators and collectors through his delight and infectious enthusiasm for the medium.

It could be said in the Brimfield Antique fields or the table top photography fairs that he constantly exhibited at that you could hear Dennis and his exuberant laugh before you saw him! He lit up a room by his presence.

He was an entrepreneur, a scholar, a showman, but most importantly, a husband and a dad. Every time I heard Dennis end a phone call to his wife or children, he ended it with, “Love Ya”.

The museum I worked for, and later I myself, own wonderful daguerreotypes because of Dennis. However, the greatest acquisition I ever got from Dennis was his friendship. I know that many others feel the same. The field of photography has lost a true original.

Robert Flynn Johnson
Curator Emeritus
Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts 
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 

Dennis Waters at The Tower of London, 2014. Credit Erin Waters
Dennis Waters in rue de Rivoli, Paris, 2018. Credit Erin Waters
Dennis Waters in his office, 26 March 2020. Credit Erin Waters