British photographic history

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Research: Information on the photographer Adolf Morath (born 1905)

I am looking for information on the German born industrial photographer Adolf (sometimes Adolph) Morath who worked extensively for British Petroleum and the Kuwaiti Oil Company in the mid-20th century, photographing oil workers, their daily life and the company facilities in Kuwait and other places. Despite his huge portfolio, there seems to be hardly any information on Morath. I would be very thankful for any information, material or recommendation where to look.

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Comment by Gilly Read FRPS on August 17, 2020 at 11:47

I met Charlotte Marx when I was a student in the early 1960's when she taught colour printing in an evening class which I took as an extra at my college. She was strict but I never found her unpleasant or cantankerous.

She was an extremely skilled colour printer who produced top class results for Morath. Agfa reds were notorious  at the time.

Morath also photographed for Colvilles in the 1960's

When I worked for Morath I think he lived had and his processing and darkroom at 14 Cornwall Gardens.

Gilly Read FRPS

Comment by Justin Parkes on August 10, 2020 at 11:15

I recently acquired a catalogue for an exhibition of Adolf Morath's colour photographs titled 'Industry'. The exhibition was held in 1957 and sponsored by the Manchester Guardian.

It's uncleare from the catalogue whether the exhibition was held at the Guardian's office or at Morath's London lab, the address of which is given as 14 Cornwall Gardens, SW7. If anyone would like a copy of the catalogue please let me know.

Morath was commissioned to photograph the British steel industry in the 1950s. Around 1954 Colvilles Magazine ran a feature called 'As Others See Us' featuring side-by-side photographs by Morath of selected employees in their work clothes and also enjoying their hobbies outside work. According to the magazine this was Morath's idea. He also photographed the steel plant. Hopefully those photographs survive somewhere, perhaps in the Tata Steel archive.

Comment by Peter J. Cheese on July 22, 2020 at 16:19

I was a student at the Birmingham School of Photography in the 1960's.  Morath held an exhibition of his industrial work at The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) then in New Street, Birmingham.  A visit was arranged for a number of students (including me) to see the exhibition and meet Morath.  From memory, he was kind to us, explaining how he achieved the stunning colour photographs and extolling the virtues of Agfa colour materials.  He prepared prints in his own laboratory.  A quite stimulating experience.

Later in my career, I met with a darkroom technician who claimed to have worked with Morath's printer describing her as a somewhat disagreeable lady, (the word cantankerous was used).  I have no verification of these observations.  In any event the technical standard of the prints was amazing as was the photography.

PJC

Comment by Michael Pritchard on June 29, 2020 at 13:21
Comment by David H Davison on March 18, 2019 at 17:38

Sometime around 1950 Adolph Morath was commissioned By the Deparment of Foreign affairs of the Irish Government to photograph important Irish literary people and possibly others of significance.

In the mid 1960s I made prints of his magnificent portrait of George Bernard Shaw , yaken on 35 mm. film and interestingly had the shadow detail around his eyes enhanced with neu-coccin.

Sometime in 1971 I had reason to enquire of the Information section of of the Department about this and several other negatives only to be told that they could not be located. Perhaps it would be worth enquiring with them regarding the Morath commission, perhaps the negatives with have resurfaced by now. The system in the section is such that it is staffed by junior diplomats who are posted elsewhere after a short time, leading to a lack of continuity or the passing on of information.

Hope this is of help.

Comment by Laura Hindelang on September 8, 2017 at 8:24

Thank you so much for sharing your memories, knowledge and insights with me! Thanks Michael Pritchard for the link, that looks promising! I assume there is no archive responsible for his oeuvre?

Comment by John Harrison on September 5, 2017 at 19:34

I may be wrong about this but I believe two more or Morath's books were "Children before my Camera," and "Pets before my Camera."

Comment by John Harrison on September 5, 2017 at 19:31

Adolf Morath ran a portrait studio in Liverpool before WW2. He photographed my parents there. He also included their portraits in his book "Faces Before My Camera." I have the original prints, his work was wonderful. In the case of my Dad (Dr. Frederick Harrison), the picture was made when he asked him to "Look into her eyes."  Perfect. And if someone was not a gentleman, it certainly was not Morath. Students at Guildford, I gather, found Nurnberg "difficult." May I quote? "You are not here to think, you are here to learn photography." Ifor Thomas must have turned in his grave. Frankly I am glad I went to Guildford before his time.

Comment by Michael Pritchard on September 4, 2017 at 12:52

He was a Fellow of the ROyal Photographic Society and there are a lot of references to him in the RPS Journal (see: https://archive.rps.org/search?q=Morath+&action=search - you'll need to pull out those relating to Adolf and not Inge). 

Comment by Frank Smallpage on September 4, 2017 at 11:52

There was a Photographic Studio in Liverpool in the 1950s named Morath and I am sure they used to do Commercial work.     

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