Brady Wilson Stewart was one of Pittsburgh's pioneer photographers, and his career lasted over seven decades. Born in 1882 in McKeesport, Brady Stewart got his start in photography when he bought a primitive box camera at the Pennsylvania Railroad yards for 50 cents. In his youth, Stewart developed his own film and made his own prints from tinplates. At the age of 22, Stewart was hired as a professional photographer by the Pittsburgh Leader, where he worked from 1904 until 1909. In 1909, with passage of the Mondell Homestead Act, Stewart and a few friends moved to Idaho to claim acreage near the Snake River. Stewart continued photographing during this time, using a hole dug in the ground and covered with a tarpaulin as his darkroom.
In 1911, Stewart returned to Pittsburgh and started to work for the city, documenting progress on construction projects and photographing political rallies. The following year, Stewart married Sarah Matthews and they both established the Brady Stewart Studio of commercial photography. Their clients included Pittsburgh corporations, and some of the novice photographers who worked under Stewart's tutelage went on to employment at the Pittsburgh Press.
Throughout the years, Stewart became a familiar figure behind his camera. Often, during news events and press conferences that he covered, notable Pittsburgh figures, such as the former mayor and Pennsylvania governor, David L. Lawrence, would stop and chat with the photographer, whom everyone knew as "Sam." Although his family was his favorite subject to photograph, Stewart captured such local celebrities as baseball legend, "Honus" Wagner, and visiting statesmen such as Theodore Roosevelt on a visit to Pittsburgh in 1917 in order to recruit soldiers.
The Brady W. Stewart Photography Studio opened in 1920 on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. The business was taken over by Brady Stewart, Jr., upon his father's death, and later by the photographer's grandson. In 1981, the studio closed at its last location on Ft. Pitt Boulevard.Source: "A Photographer's Photographer" by Rich Gigler in The Pittsburgh Press, Sunday Roto Magazine, March 21, 1982.
The Pittsburgh Photographic Library maintains a selection of Brady Stewart's images. A collection of his photographs is also maintained by the Carnegie Museum of Art.