Howdill did not simply take photographs – he used the latest magic lantern technology to present them to audiences all over Britain. The heyday of his lecturing career was in the years immediately preceding the Great War, when illustrated lectures offered a popular blend of information and entertainment.
His early lectures were on relatively conventional topics such as Yorkshire Ministers. Other lectures were devoted to the art of colour photography, then in its infancy. Later, he put much of his energy into travelogues: his most popular talk was entitled The Blazing Balkans, while another favourite was Corsica – Isle of Unrest.
At times, Howdill would stop at nothing to get a good shot for his viewers: in 1912 he had to snap three visiting circus lions through the bars of their cage, after their tamer refused to let him inside.
Something of a showman, during his public lectures on photography Howdill would often wow the audience by snapping a brightly-dressed attendee and developing the colour image on the spot.