Reducing his studio to that which he could pack into two or three valises, he closed shop and left town - an itinerant photographer off to see the world. For two or three years he travelled thoughout the American Southwest and on to the eastern seaboard, to New York, and thence back west across Canada. His work was typical of the photography done in those days: stiff, formal Victorian portraits of couples and families, and slightly less formal poses of tradesmen standing, arms crossed, in front of the apparatus of their trade. It was not a lucrative way to make a living, but his presence would invariably arouse the collective curiosity of the small American and Canadian towns through which he travelled.
If Harmon’s first visit to Banff was a short one, it was an important one. While soaking in the hot springs one day, he struck up a conversation with a local who informed him that despite the possibilities for a photographer in a town like Banff, there was as yet no permanent studio. Harmon was quick to recognize the potential for asthmatic relief in the high mountain air, and there is little doubt that the mountains themselves struck a highly responsive chord in him, for within a year he was back in what he termed ‘that part of Canada which stands on end’. He embarked on his life’s work: photographing every major peak and glacier in the Rocky and Selkirk Mountains in as many different moods and seasons as possible. It was a task that would end only when he could no longer travel deep into the mountain wilderness, over miles of limestone and quartzite ridges and peaks and aaoss acres of tumbling, fissured glacial ice, the peculiarly turquoise-tinted lakes that might reflect twenty shades of light at any one moment, the fast-flowing silted rivers, and the deep glacier-scoured valleys.
Before returning to Banff to live, however, Harmon had some odds-and-ends to look after in the foothills, and he returned for a short while to High River, where he had been working before his mountain visit. There he exhibited a typical ‘seize-the-moment’