Victorian Photography with Peter Freeman

On the 24th March, long-term club member, Peter Freeman, gave a presentation on Victorian Photography.

Peter has had a long interest in the history of photography and his enthusiasm for the subject shines through his talks.

We were shown a variety of different subject matters all covered by Victorian photographers, from studio portraits, to travel and adventure, to photo-journalism and everything between. It seems whatever we are photographing today, the Victorians were doing it 120 years ago.

Peter showed examples of the different equipment being used and how the simple camera developed and turned into an object we are familiar with today.

In the second half of Peter’s presentation, he showcased the work of three Victorian Photographers:

Hill & Adamson, Julia Margaret Cameron (JMC) and the french photographer “Nadar” (Gaspard Felix Tournechon)

Octavius Hill had the difficult task of producing a commemorative painting of the first meeting of the Scottish Free Church. In order to make sure all the main people were recognisable David Brewster suggested that he contact Adamson to take photographs of them for him to copy. The project was highly successful and started a photographic/artistic partnership which lasted until Adamson died.

JMC’s daughter gave her a camera to amuse herself on the Isle of Wight while her husband was away on his many business trips. She produced many photographs of eminent Victorians and was continuously being harassed by Charles Dodgson, whom she disliked, to use wider angle lens. Fortunately she ignored him and became internationally famous for her portraits.

Nadar was the first photographer to take aerial photographs from a balloon ( 1870’s) and by electric light. He also pioneered photo journalism.

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