Special Reports

J. W. Sandison snapped life with 'Cirkut' camera

In Nov. 5, 1921, Bellingham photographer James W. Sandison used a motorized "Cirkut" camera - one that rotated as it snapped pictures - to capture this now-classic image of kids at a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest. They posed by the Liberty Theater, where the Parkade now stands.

In 1904, Sandison left a bubonic plague epidemic in Honolulu and moved to Bellingham, where he opened a portrait and commercial studio on West Holly Street. He died in 1962, leaving a legacy that includes some 6,000 negatives in the collection at Whatcom Museum of History & Art.

"He just kept working and working," said Jeff Jewell, photo historian at the museum. "He died in his studio."