Fresno's Photo Laureate working to preserve history

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local man with a rare responsibility is working hard to preserve his legacy before it's lost forever.

Howard Watkins has taken hundreds of thousands of pictures of some of the biggest moments in local people's lives, of some of the biggest local personalities and key players across the Valley.

"If there's money to be made it needs to go back into the project," Watkins said.

Watkins was named by both Fresno city and county leaders as the official Photo Laureate.

"For the last, probably 20 years, wherever I went the camera went," he said.

Some of his roughly 300,000 photos, taken over three decades, are on display at the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State.

It's part of his archive project to take these historic photo prints and turn them digital, so they can forever preserve these glimpses into Fresno's history.

"It's really the last 20 years where my collection struck me as a historical record," said Watkins.

Right now Watkins is indexing his photos taken from 1973 to 2003. "Indexing is going to take a lot of time so I'm now dramatically reducing the number of events and the number of pictures I take at an event," he said.

Watkins retired from his long career as a lawyer in 2007 which opened up more time for what he calls an obsession. "So I took another 150,000 photos," he said. "I've indexed 11,000.

Watkins not only served as an upfront witness to local events. He has also been front and center with major celebrities.

Watkins hopes to get some financial help preserving his work, his legacy that he wants to share at no cost to the public.

Visit for more information.

To donate to this project, go to

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.