Claude Low (1874 - 1935), photographer

Claude Low (1874 - 1935), photographer

Possibly my favourite photo of a daylight studio in my collection, but where was this suburban, sylvan, setting? From the list of other branch studios plastered across the façade, we know where it wasn’t – 72 Princes Street, Edinburgh. London, Blackpool, [Shore Road] Aberdour, Rothsay, Largs, etc. etc. Many of these are seaside locations, so probably only seasonal studios.

The signage says Cabinet photos 1/- [shilling] each, No Extra Charge for groups. Also says Have Your Photo taken with the Pony and Trap, …….. & Motor Car. These were staged with backcloths (examples can be seen on the  Edinphoto website).

Peter Claude Low (1874 – 1935) was an Edinburgh photographer. He was the eldest son of Peter Low (1842 - ), a portrait painter turned photographer, and Georgina Low (nee Hill, 1850 - 1893), they married in 1871 and had two sons Claude and Philip. In the 1891 Census, aged 17, Claude was living with his parents at 19 Henderson Row, Edinburgh, his occupation was recorded as camera maker. By August 1893 he was a photographer with a studio at 127 Ferry Road, Leith. Claude married Mary Thomson Masson in 1895,  Edinphoto has a photo of them.

Five years later he had moved to 54 Cockburn Street, which is where he was living at the time of the 1901 Census. Judging by his advertisements in the local press, this appears to have been his principal address in the up to c. 1909. Edinphoto’s study of the local directories has him at 72 Princes Street 1906 – 11, they also list studios at Roslin and Dunoon.

Claude’s younger brother Philip Ernest Low (1876 – 1936) also followed the same profession. From c.1900 – 1910 his main studio was in Bath Street, Portabello, though he also ran studios on the Promenade, Broughty Ferry and the Bathing Station, Aberdeen.

Both Claude and Philip later emigrated, Claude to South Africa, though he subsequently returned to the UK. Philip emigrated to initially Dunedin, New Zealand,. He ran several hotels, but apparently went  bankrupt during the Great Depression and so moved to Australia, where he died in 1936.

If anyone has any further information on Claude and Peter, or knows where this or their other studios were, I’d be grateful to hear from you.

Many thanks!

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  • Hi, i have some conflicting informtion from my "Directory ofd Engl;ish Photographers," compiled from the hundreds of early postoffice and others directories of england & Scotland in the NSW State library, Sydney (Hundreds of volumes). it took me almost a year of photostating all of them and entering into my computer, found it impossible to enter into a data base. now in the hands of Ron Cousins, who has made a data base out of it all. (have many other photographers named Low, but did not know the family connections till your article. much appreciated)  Please not, though many english direcories are annuals , many of the scottish directories are not, and sometimes even greater gaps when information outside of main cities.

    Also the problem that some photographers would intermitantly advertisie, off and onn, and their fortunes and buisness rose & fell. And with out local knowledge if could only go on what was printed in the directories.

    Regards, Sandy Barrie. (Ipswich, Queensland, Australia)


    Low, Messers.

    130 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1878

    79 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1879 - 80

    127A Ferry Rd, Edinburgh, Scotland 1894 - 97

    72 Princes t, Edinburgh, Scotland cdv.

    Low, Peter Claude.

    (Camera maker) 1873

    2 Tait St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1896

    54 Cockburn St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1898 - 1910

    74 Nicholson St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1903

    Shore Rd, Aberdour, Fifeshire, Scotland 1903 - 13

    72 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1906 - 10

    26 Montrose Trce, Edinburgh, Scotland pm.

    Rosline & Dunoon,

    Low, Peter.

    71 Hill St, Arbroath, Angus, Scotland (census) 1861

    74 Jamaica St, Glasgow, Scotland 1863 - 67

    193 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow, Scotland 1866 - 67

    130 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1872 - 78

    79 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1879 - 80

    Low, Philip Ernest. 

    2 George Place, Leith Walk, Edinburgh, Scotland 1900

    26 Bath St, Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland 1902 - 11

    Promenade, Broughty Ferry, Forfarshire, Scotland 1906 - 13

    Esplanade, Broughty Ferry, Forfarshire, Scotland 1907

    18 Kirkgate, Edinburgh, Scotland 1907

    130 Leith St, Edinburgh, Scotland 1908 - 11

    3 Baxter’s Place, Edinburgh, Scotland 1908 - 12

  • Although the photo looks like the studio was in a parkland setting, it has now been identified as having been situated on the sea front parade in East Bay, Dunoon. 

    I have long wondered if Claude was indulging in advertising puffery by including Blackpool and London on his façade, two places much further afield than the others. I had never come across a studio of his in Blackpool, nor had Gillian Jones in the research for her book Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840 -1940. However, it's likely that it would have been seasonal, and may only have been of short duration. Has anyone ever found a reference to Claude in Blackpool or London?

  • I love this photo!  I am hoping that this was taken in Edinburgh.  Great for Edinburgh/Scottish photography history!


  • Claude Low patented a postcard printing frame in February 1905. 


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