A self-portrait of Francis Edgar (F. E.) Stanley in his portrait studio located on the third floor of 138 Lisbon Street in Lewiston, circa 1882.
Born in Kingfield in 1849, Stanley taught school in New Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Strong before turning his talents to portraiture. He opened a portrait studio in Auburn in 1875 as a "crayon artist" using liquid charcoal as a medium, and invented an atomizer or airbrush, which he patented in 1876.
He began using photography in his studio in 1877, initially to reduce the sitting time for his customers, eventually producing photographic portraits as well. Stanley opened photographic studios in Lewiston, Auburn and Bridgton, and began experimenting with the new dry plate technology in the early 1880s.
He soon invented his own photographic dry plate formula, and began manufacturing and selling his plates to other photographers in 1883. In 1884 he was joined by his twin brother, Freelan O. (F.O.) Stanley, and together they founded the Stanley Dry Plate Company and invented a successful process of mass-producing dry plates, which established their manufactory in Lewiston (and later in Montreal and Newton, Mass.) as one of the leading producers in the country.
F.E. Stanley continued to operate his photo studio, in part as a means of determining quality control of Stanley dry plates, until 1889 when he discontinued his studio work to concentrate on manufacturing. The Stanley Brothers sold their photographic dry plate business to Eastman Kodak in 1904, and eventually became better known as the inventors and manufacturers of the Stanley steam automobile.