Birdy and Selwin

Birdy and Selwin on Their Wedding Day in 1939


Here are Birdy and Selwin’s wedding portrait. Back in 1939, when they got married, a wedding photographer was lucky if he made a half dozen portraits on a wedding day, so each and every portrait was worth much more than fancy jewels to the bride.

Selwin was a bit of an amateur photographer himself, having studied under the wonderful German wedding photographer, Hans Gruber, so he had a pretty good handle on the available photographers and their work, which was why it was no surprise among the photographic community when he picked Henrietta Harpine to photograph their wedding.


Birdy and Selwin on Their Wedding Day


However, it was a surprise to Birdy’s father and brothers, because they didn’t believe a woman could handle something as complicated as a camera, much less develop the film, which all good photographers did themselves back then.

But Selwin would have none of their prejudices against women and he went with Henrietta and as you can see, she delivered a wonderful wedding portrait. 

And a very good thing came from his in-laws prejudices, because it opened Selwin’s eyes to how women were treated unfairly in the business world and he began seeing with new vision. He raised the pay for all the women in his five show factories to the same as he was paying the men, which irritated a lotta the men, because they thought they deserved more, especially the ones who had a stay at home wife, raising their kids. They thought it unfair that some of the factory woman were single and bringing in extra income.

But Selwin held his ground, saying something really odd for his time, “We are going to have equal pay for equal work in my factories.” He went on to proclaim that if anybody who worked for him didn’t like it, “They could go and find a job somewhere else.”

Had Selwin survived World War II, he would have been a powerful presence in American politics, but sadly he lost his life when his plane was shot down over France on D Day.

Birdy never remarried, so strong was her love for Selwin. However, like her husband, she believed all people were created equal and she was a strong advocate for civil rights and equal rights for all right up till she passed away in January of 1987.

Birdy and Selwin’s love story was cut short, which made her wedding photographs all that more dear to her. The were wonderful people, who cared more about others then they did themselves. The world needs more like them.

Ken and Vesta Wedding and Portrait Photography, 1250 Ralston Street, Reno, NV 89503
Phone: 775 393-9529