Edward A. Kusel self portrait, courtesy of California State University, Chico
Self-portrait of Edward A. Kusel, taken in 1878. Courtesy of California State University, Chico.

Edward Abraham Kusel (1824-1907) used experimentation to improve photographic technology. He worked to find scientific solutions to common problems like foggy or spotted photographs. Kusel also employed color theory, recommending specific clothing colors to his subjects for better portrait results. His findings were frequently published as how-to articles. He operated galleries in Marysville, Chico, Sacramento, and Oroville.

Kusel, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, arrived in the United States in the 1850s. He settled in Oroville in 1856 and ran a successful stationery store in addition to his photographic pursuits. Kusel was an active member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, an abolitionist, and a supporter of the Oroville Public Library. He served on the Oroville School Board for over 30 years.