He spent his youth in Martinez, California where his father was the editor of the local newspaper, but was later educated in San Francisco, Paris, London and Venice.
His tonalist paintings which are rare include Man and Nature (1903) and Presidio Cliffs which was exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915).
Some of Porter's stained-glass designs can be found at St Mary's Episcopal Church in Pacific Grove, California, Swedenborgian Church (1895) and the Le Petit Trianon mansion (1904), both in San Francisco. Windows he designed adorn churches in Monterey, Stockton, San Mateo and Coronado.
As a landscape designer, Porter created the gardens at the Filoli estate (1917) in Woodside, California, designed the landscaping at Memorial Stadium at the University of California at Berkeley (1923), designed the Memorial Arch (1919) on Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga, California and provided landscaping for several private homes.
Porter's other accomplishments included designing the Robert Louis Stevenson monument in Portsmouth Square in San Francisco. His many murals include those at the Pacific Union Club and the First Unitarian church, also in San Francisco.
Porter also wrote art criticisms for local newspapers. For two years, 1895 to 1897, Porter, along with Gelett Burgess and William Doxey, published the literary magazine The Lark. Porter also contributed to Arts in California (1916), a book that compiled the art works exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
- Artists in California 1786 - 1940 (1989), Edan Milton Hughes
- Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers (1986), Mantle Fielding
- Arts in California (1916), Bruce Porter, Porter Garnett, et al.
- San Francisco Chronicle, 26 November 1953 (obit)
- Saratoga Chamber of Commerce