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V+A seeks weddings photographs

12200909292?profile=originalIn advance of an exhibition of Wedding Dresses in 2013 London's Victoria and Albert Museum is creating a database of photographs of clothes worn for weddings from all cultures between 1840 and the present. This includes civil partnerships. This database will provide a rich record and help people date their own photographs. The museum is inviting people with images to upload them.

To ensure it builds a useful historical record all entries will provide the year of the event and the names of the bride and groom or partners. The place and the religion of the wedding will be included if possible. More details and the site are here:
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12200907701?profile=originalFor those who didn't quite manage to make it to Paris for this exhibition earlier in the year, the accompanying book is now available through Amazon UK, by using the link on the right.

Richly illustrated, this monograph reference brings together some 180 works from the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the French Society photography, the Musée d'Orsay, the Museum of Decorative Arts, Library of the Institut de France ... and who are the important calotype in the history of the photographic medium, the dictionary of over 350 photographers who practiced in France calotype etc.

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Online Auction: Stereographica

12200910288?profile=originalThere are always a number of interesting British-related photographic items that pop up on offer at this site, the next online auction being scheduled for 5th March. Check them out here, and see if anything takes your fancy .......


Photo: London Stereoscopic Co., 24 page catalog from 1856

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Ashley Givens presents research

Ashley Givens from the V+A, London, will be presenting a short paper about her research titled Painted and Photographic Portraits of Napoléon III and the Empress Eugénie at the Courtauld's Postgraduate symposium in London on Friday 11 March. Details are here: Entry is free.

Her abstract is below:

Painted and Photographic Portraits of Napoléon III and the Empress Eugénie
This dissertation explores the issues surrounding the public display and circulation of portraits of one of the mid-Nineteenth Century’s best-known figures, the Emperor of France, Napoléon III. The purpose is to understand how images of Napoléon III were conceived and created in various modes, and how they were then assessed by critics and disseminated among constituents. Many portraits of the Emperor were officially commissioned or sanctioned as appropriate depictions of France’s sovereign. These provide some sense of the range of roles played by the Emperor (and his wife and son).
In this symposium paper the roles include military commander, diplomat and redeemer of the people. This paper analyses a range of depictions which were broadly considered genre paintings. Alongside the portraits, genre paintings present a parallel means of relaying and, further, reinforcing information about the sovereign to his people. Themes of the paper include the relationship between nature and artifice and efforts to find a rhetoric for inscribing Napoléon III in France’s unfolding history. It examines which events of the 1850s and 1860s were chosen for commemoration, or as opportunities to showcase the work of the Emperor, as well as the reception of the resulting paintings.

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Muybridge kiss for Valentine's Day

12200907668?profile=originalThe world’s first filmed kiss has been resurrected for Valentine’s Day after laying unrecognised in photography books for more than a century. The images of two unclothed women kissing were created by pioneering Kingston photographer Eadweard Muybridge between 1872 and 1885 using a bank of still cameras firing in sequence.

The eight-frame sequence predates the 1896 film The Kiss, showing an actor and actress re-enact the final scene from The Widow Jones, which was selected for preservation by the United States Library of Congress in 1999. American artist and academic David Gordon compiled the frames – first published as plate 444 in Muybridge’s book Animal Locomotion – into a digital loop to bring the kiss to life once more.  Mr Gordon, who teaches in Beverly, Massachusetts, is creating a short film called Victorian Dream from Muybridge’s photos, and hopes to visit and lecture in Kingston.

The film will be unveiled on on Monday, February 14. You can read the full news article here.

Photo: Muybridge: World's first filmed kiss resurrected for Valentine's Day
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12200907478?profile=originalThe National Archives has digitised thousands of unique images of Africa and published them on Flickr this week. The collection spans more than 100 years of African history, from as early as the 1860s, including images of people, places, national and imperial events, conflict and natural disasters.

The images were transferred to The National Archives from the Colonial Office Library's photographic collection and offer a unique insight into life in the colonies. Approximately 10,000 images, a third of the entire collection, have been digitised so far.

As some of the images have minimal context, the public is invited to contribute to these historical assets by adding comments and captions, filling in knowledge gaps.

Oliver Morley, Acting Chief Executive of The National Archives, said: 'An online collection like this reaches beyond the academic world and into people's living rooms, enabling everyone to contribute to our understanding of past events.'

The 'Africa through a lens' collection is available now to view. Find out more and access the images here:  There is also a news report here:


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12200906669?profile=originalBraintree District Museum traces its origins to a Museum room in the Town Hall that opened in 1928 to display the collections of Alfred Hills, a local clerk and historian and the Courtauld family. After a succession of different homes, today's Museum opened in the former Manor Street School on 6th October 1993. Since then the collections expanded from boundaries of Braintree and Bocking to the whole of the District of Braintree. 
Current collecting strengths include: archaeology, ceramics, local history, photographs and textiles. The  Museum possesses a large and important collection comprising snapshots of the District's people and places from the 1880s to the present day.

Museum visitors can now view more than 500 historic photographs at the touch of a button.The Friends of Braintree District Museum have paid for the electronic archive, which visitors can use to order copies of photographs at £5 a copy.


Photo: A 'Scold's Bridle' being modelled by Alfred Hills.

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Finding Sir John Herschel

12200909255?profile=originalIn a recent recording of the ever popular BBC series of 'Flog It!' at Henley Town Hall, the stand-out item of the day was a photograph of scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the preeminent photographers of the 19th century.  Researchers are to investigate the history of the photograph, which could fetch thousands when it is flogged off at Cameo Auctioneers, near Reading, next month!

Staying with Herschel, The Harry Ransom Centre, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has also recently announced that it has received a $10,000 grant from the Friends of the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics to rehouse and rearrange its holdings of the Herschel family papers and to create an online finding aid.

The Herschel family papers, acquired in 1960 with subsequent smaller accessions of additional materials, largely represent the life and work of Sir John F. W. Herschel (1792-1871), the English mathematician, astronomer, chemist and experimental photographer/inventor. John Herschel has been called Britain's first modern physical scientist, and his correspondence has been noted as one of the most valuable archives for 19th-century science.

The one-year project will allow the Center to arrange and describe the papers according to current archival practices and enhance access to the materials. The papers will be re-housed to better protect and preserve the materials long-term. The creation of an online finding aid will raise awareness and enhance access to the papers and represents the first complete and searchable description of the collection, making it readily available to users.

The Ransom Center's collection of the Herschels is exceeded in size only by the collection at the Royal Society in London.

Both news reports can be found here and here.


Photo:  1867 photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron.

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12200911469?profile=originalAs mentioned in an earlier blog, further information on this exhibition is now available.

Photography was born in 1839, making the 19th century the first to be recorded in this medium. Since then, photography has evolved dramatically from the original chemical processes to today’s digital technology. But its transformation during its first decades was an equally important transition. Until April 17, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) presents 19th-Century British Photographs from the NGC, a fascinating exhibition of some of the national collection’s key holdings, including some that have rarely been shown. The exhibition traces the development of photography in Britain over the course of the Victorian era, from early, salted paper prints, to daguerreotypes, to magnificent turn-of-the-century platinum prints.

From the portraits of family and friends, small, familiar and domestic scenes, to grand and exotic scenes, the photographs in 19th-Century British Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada present a great range of subjects. Viewers will see images of a rapidly changing society: old courtyards and buildings, urban landscapes and village scenes that record daily life in Victoria’s Britain. In all, more than 100 photographs, many taken by the most celebrated photographers of the time, such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Frederick Evans, chosen among more than 2,000 images in the NGC’s 19th-century British photographs collection. This is an outstanding collection, which began to take shape in 1967, and which comprises some of the most important 19th-century British photographs in existence.

“The Gallery has a superb collection of British photographs,’’ said NGC Director Marc Mayer. “We owe its success in no small part to the passion and generosity of our donors who helped us build it for Canada.’’

Who were the British photographers of the 19th-century…
What began as a series of experiments conducted by men of science quickly turned into a leisure activity for wealthy upper-class men and women. Rapid changes in photographic technology coupled with an insatiable public desire for images meant that not long after its invention photography, as a source of employment or pleasure was available to the middle and, in some cases, even the working classes. Census records show that several of the photographers whose work is now part of the NGC’s collection began their professional lives as opticians, lens makers, chemists, or merchants.

…and what were their interests?
19th-Century British Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada also reveals some of the major preoccupations of the period, subjects that were of interest to photographers of the Victorian era along with the tastes, biases and prejudices of their time and place. Contemporary issues such as the need for reshaping the urban environment, the plight of the poor, and debates about social reform along with an unquestioning optimism about Britain’s continuing imperial power are implicit in many of the photographic images from this era. The photographs are evidence of their makers' fascination with the natural world, their need to understand how things work and their drive to codify and to document.

19th-Century British Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada is the third instalment in a series of exhibitions that showcase the depth and variety of the national collection of photographs. Modernist Photographs appeared in 2007 and 
19th-Century French Photographs in 2009. The latter is currently on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until March 20.

On Thursday, March 3 at 6 pm, the public is invited to hear Larry Schaaf internationally respected photo historian, Baltimore, Maryland, as he gives a lecture entitled "I have captured a Shadow!" William Henry Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition. In the Lecture Hall. 
Cost: adults $5, seniors and students $4, members $3.

Exhibition curator
Lori Pauli is the Associate Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada and and curator of 19th-Century British Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada. She curatored several exhibitions including Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky (2003), Acting The Part: Photography as Theatre (2006), and Utopia/Dystopia: The Photographs of Geoffrey James (2008). She has contributed an essay on the work of Lisette Model, Diane Arbus and August Sander for a catalogue for the Kunsthalle, Vienna, and one on the work Oscar Gustave Rejlander for the Moderna Musset in Sweden and has published essays, reviews and entries for journal History of Photography, Queen’s Quarterly, Scottish Journal for the History of Photography and the Encyclopedia of 19th-Century Photography.

With an introduction by the exhibition curator Lori Pauli, and an essay by NGC Photographs Conservator, John McElhone, the catalogue documents the developments in photographic technologies in 19th-century Britain; from historically important paper negatives to platinum prints, works by Julia Margaret Cameron, William Henry Fox Talbot, Frederick Evans, Roger Fenton, and Henry Peach Robinson, among others, are beautifully illustrated and examined. The catalogues also comprises texts by Ann Thomas, Jim Borcoman, Larry Schaaf, Roger Taylor, and David Harris. The 176-page soft cover volume is on sale at the NGC Bookstore for $49 and at, the Gallery's online boutique.

The official press release can be found here, and details of the exhibition here. And if you like a copy of the catalogue, try the Amazon link on the right.

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12200911088?profile=originalBrought to Asia in the early 1840s by Europeans, photography was both a witness to the dramatic changes that took place in China from the second half of the 19th century through the early 20th century and a catalyst to further modernization. This talk will outline how the medium of photography was readily adopted by Chinese export painters, who learned the mystery of the new technology and practiced it alongside their traditional training. Among other examples, the talk will illustrate the work of the Tung Hing studio (active 1870s), which captured the essence of Chinese landscape painting in its photographs of Fuzhou and the river Min or the distinctive work of See Tay (active 1870s and 1880s), who created a new hybrid aesthetic in which literati conventions were blended with the reproductive medium of photography.

Unfortunately, the talk by Dr. Frances Terpak (Curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute and coauthor of the award-winning Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen (Getty Publications, 2001), and co-editor of Brush and Shutter: Early Photography in China (Getty Publications and Hong Kong University Press, 2011)) is on tomorrow 9th Feb 2011 at UCLA! Sorry for the late notice, but details of the talk can be found here.
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12200905282?profile=originalPeople looking to uncover the true spirit of the iconic and currently ubiquitous wartime poster, Keep Calm and Carry On, may want to head to the Royal Air Force Museum to see the real backdrop of this chirpy wartime notice. The Mayor of London’s photographic and image based exhibition, commissioned by Boris Johnson for City Hall to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the London Blitz, is heading from its temporary home for a spell at the historic Hendon site.
Dedicate to the individuals involved in the emergency, volunteer, transport and specialist services who kept London going during the darkest days of the War, the exhibition features hard-hitting wartime images together with histories culled from the collections of various London organisations.
Each of dramatic photographs vividly portrays the story of London’s people, their determination and ‘Blitz Spirit’ at time when 30,000 Londoners were killed, entire communities destroyed and countless thousands left homeless.
The aerial bombing campaign on London during the Second World War ran from September 7 to May 11 1941. During this period 50,000 bombs and millions of incendiary devices fell on the city.
We are particularly honoured to display this collaborative effort,” said Ian Thirsk, Head of Collections at the Royal Air Force Museum, “Iwhich narrates the story of how so many of the capital’s organisations were central to the on-going delivery of vital public services during late 1940 and early 1941.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson also welcomed the exhibition's showing at the RAF Museum and similarly paid tribute to the “bravery and dogged determination of the men and women who battled to keep London going in the face of a terrifying and unremitting bombardment. This tremendous spirit and resilience remain at the very heart of the capital and we owe a huge debt of gratitude and respect to all those who helped secure London's future.”
The rarely seen images have been provided by London Transport Museum, the Museum of London, the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection, the Fire Brigade Museum, London Ambulance Service, Barts and London NHS and the Royal Pioneer Corps Association.

The London Blitz 70th anniversary Exhibition, The Bomber Hall of the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon until May 31 2011.

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12200905865?profile=originalThe exhibition consists of a selection from the Ottoman portrait photographs from Ömer M. Koç collection shows the high level of technical and artistic terms of photography by the interest of the Ottoman imperial family. 

This exhibition marks the importance given by the Ottoman sultans, other members of the royal dynasty and statesmen in the 19th century and includes the photographs of Prince Ömer Faruk the son of Caliph Abdülmecid, Nazime Sultan the daughter of Sultan Abdülaziz, Fehime Sultan the daughter of Sultan Murad V, Prince Yusuf İzzeddin the son of Sultan Abdülaziz, Sultan Murad V, Prince Mehmed Selim the son of Sultan Abdülhamid II, Prince Mehmed Seyfeddin and Esma Sultan the children of Sultan Abdülaziz. 

During the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, who acceded to the throne in 1861 and was keenly interested in various branches of fine arts, Ottoman portrait photography reached a pinnacle of achievment in both technical and artistic terms, thanks to the skill of the Abdullah Brothers, who specialised in portrait photography. Vasilaki Kargopulo, who was appointed as court photographer in 1878, two years after Sultan Abdülhamid II came to the throne, contiuned to take similarly high quality portraits of the royal family and statesmen. As ameteur photography gained momentum from the turn of the century onwards, members of the royal family began to take their own photographs, the number of family photographs taken in private areas of royal residences increased significantly. 

Some members of the Ottoman royal family were particularly interested in portrait photography, notably Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi, Heir Apparent Yusuf İzzeddin Efendi, and the royal princes Ömer Faruk, Mehmed Selaheddin and Osman Fuad, who had their portrait photographs on various occasions from their childhood onwards, and pioneered this interest among other members of the royal family as expressions of loyalty and friendship continued for many years.

Details of the exhibition can be found here.

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Robert Leggat

Robert Leggat who researched and maintained one of the first useful photographic history resources on the internet died on 20 January 2011. His A History of Photography from its beginnings till the 1920s ( was designed for school and college students and started in 1995. It is still available today and was being maintained by Leggat until shortly before his death. Put many historical photographic terms or personalities into a search engine and the chances are that Leggat’s website will be somewhere near the top of the results list.

Since its launch the site has had nearly 10 million visitors and the online guestbook from the early years (the guestbook was later discontinued as Leggat was unable to keep up with responding to questions and queries) was full of praise and thanks from students who had made use of it.

Leggat was involved in photographic education throughout his career and took an active role in the Royal Photographic Society as its Honorary Education Officer amongst other positions. A fuller obituary has been prepared but if anyone has any recollections or further knowledge of Robert's career and life please contact Michael Pritchard (email:

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We are delighted to offer free entry to visitors to the London Photograph Fair on February 20th after 2pm. All we ask is that you email us on for a voucher: this is essential so we can keep track of how many people we might expect. We will have around 40 dealers exhibiting vintage and contemporary images, as well as a wide range of photo books. For visitors arriving earlier in the day, a number of dealers have offered to refund the cost of admission, on purchases of £20 or above in most cases.

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12200910700?profile=originalBetween 1859 and 1905, a number of photographers, working from the Maghreb to Turkey, collectively amassed a vast documentation of the region's landscape, towns and monuments. "Gardens of Sand" (by Nassar, Almarcegui & Worswick) unites 90 original photographs, mostly hitherto unpublished, by photographers such as James Robertson, Wilhelm Hammerschmidt, G. Lekegian, Antoine Beato, Felix Bonfils, Otto Shoefft, Emile Bechard and Sulayman Al-Hakim of Damascus.

During the 19th century, the Middle East was one of the world’s most heavily photographed places. More than 280 photographers arrived in the region by the early 1880s.” While numerous archeological, scientific or military missions were sent to document the countries of the region, some individuals traveled either for personal reasons to discover and photograph ancient lands or to serve the increasing number of tourists wanting photographs.

The photographs shown in “Gardens of Sand” were taken by some of the most prominent photographers and they are also among the earliest of the Middle East. This landscape, awesome by its poetic realism, reflects its distinct artistic quality intended by the photographers Lehnert & Landrock: Rudolf Franz Lehnert (1878-1948) and Ernst Heinrich Landrock (1878-1966).The photographs of Cairo, taken between 1868-1869, by Frank Mason Good are also remarkable.

One of the most accomplished photographers of the 19th-century, Francis Frith, took pictures of Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria between 1856 and 1859. He produced seven books depicting the three challenging journeys he made across the Middle East. When these photographs were exhibited in London, they caused a sensation.

Photography arrived later in the Arabian Peninsula. The first known pictures of Arabia were taken by an Egyptian engineer and officer known as Muhammad Sadiq during his survey in 1861. He was the first photographer to take pictures of Madinah. “Gardens of Sand” features a rare copy print of Sadiq’s original photograph of Madinah from Bab Al-Sham (circa 1899) made by the only known Arab photographer of the Middle East, Sulayman Al-Hakim of Damascus, circa 1890.

The scarcest pictures of the Middle East are photographs of the Holy Cities. The photographs featured in “Gardens of Sand” include one taken by Sulayman Al-Hakim and three by Sayyid Abd Al-Ghaffar, a Makkah based physician who practiced photography from around 1884 and was most likely the first native Arabian photographer.

One of the pictures is an 1880s copy print made of one of Abd Al-Ghaffar’s photographs of the Kaabah and credited to Pascal Sebah of Istanbul — signed Abd Al-Ghaffar prints of Makkah are exceedingly rare. The prints in this book were found in Hyderabad, India in the 1970s.

There has been an increased demand for early photographs and the market shows no indication of slowing down. The high price of approximately $3 million for the sale of Daguerreotypes by a talented but unknown French photographer, Joseph-Philibert Giraud de Prangey, shows the increasing interest in good early photographs. Sotheby’s London book department continues to host a remarkable number of interesting early photographic books. Speaking of photographic albums, it is interesting to know that the scarcity of 19th century photographers is due to the acid contained in the album pages.

You can buy the book from the Amazon link on the right, and read the full review article here.

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Obituary: Keith Cavanagh, Photography Curator

12200910881?profile=originalAn impassioned campaigner for photography for over 30 years, untroubled by ego or personal ambition, Keith Cavanagh was a loyal, long term friend and supporter to very many photographers, and particularly young practitioners looking for help in achieving their work's first public airing.

The British Journal of Photography pays tribute to a man who was a tireless supporter of photography in the UK, best known for championing new talent and establishing the Tom Blau Gallery in London. You can read the tribute here.

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12200910668?profile=originalThe Royal Photographic Society and The Macallan have announced a new three year deal to sponsor the world renowned annual Royal Photographic Society Awards Ceremony, as part of The Macallan’s innovative and ground-breaking work within the photography arena.

Founded in 1853, The Royal Photographic Society is the world’s longest established Photography Society. It was granted its Royal patronage by Queen Victoria in 1894, and a Royal Charter in 2004. It remains one of the most prestigious and well-respected societies to this day, with membership across the world. 

By supporting the Awards for the next three years, The Macallan will cement its growing commitment to the photographic world as well as working in partnership with The Society to develop the Awards in the longer term. Membership of the Society is diverse and varied across both professional and amateur spectrums enabling The Macallan to play its part in encouraging the rich seam of talent, expertise and innovation of photographers, educationalists, and imaging scientists. 

The Macallan 2011 Royal Photographic Society Awards which take place in September, will recognise individuals who have made a significant contribution to the art and science of photography. From recognising achievements in the advancement of photography, education and research, through to technical excellence and the ultimate accolade, the Centenary Medal for sustained, significant contributions to the art of photography, the Awards support and celebrate every aspect of the photographic industry and its thriving community. 

Last year’s recipient of the prestigious Royal Photographic Society Centenary Award, Albert Watson Hon FRPS, was recently involved in a unique collaboration with The Macallan. The partnership began when Watson was invited by The Macallan to weave a visual narrative of the long journey made from acorn to glass to eventually produce a rich and complex Single Malt. The stunning end result was a series of platinum prints partnered with an exceptional limited edition 1946 Macallan

Commenting on the partnership, Ken Grier, Director of Malts at The Edrington Group, said, “Working with, and supporting, The Royal Photographic Society is a natural progression for The Macallan and testament to our increasing presence, passion and innovation in the photography sphere. The Society itself is an ideal partner given its rich history, professional excellence and world leading authority in photography. Our commitment in this area is for the long term and the Awards give us the opportunity to work with the very best, at the highest levels to ensure complete integrity and excellence.” 

He continued, “Building on our work with both Rankin and Albert Watson, we recognise and respect the power of stunning photography in capturing the essence of The Macallan brand and telling different and intriguing stories through this medium.” 

The Masters of Photography initiative celebrates the coming together of two very different but highly revered art processes, photography and whisky-making. The first Masters of Photography was created by Rankin and saw a photographic interpretation of The Macallan’s spiritual home on Speyside. 

In welcoming The Macallan as sponsors of The Society Awards Ceremony Rosemary Wilman HonFRPS, President of The Society, commented " The Royal Photographic Society recognises The Macallan as a natural partner for The Society, with their commitment and passion for photography at the highest level, through Masters of Photography. We look forward to working with The Macallan and believe that this partnership will strengthen the prestige of The Society Awards." 

She added "The most recent Masters of Photography collaboration was with Albert Watson HonFRPS, The RPS Centenary Medal winner in 2010 . The Centenary Medal recognises a sustained contribution to the art of photography at the highest level with previous recipients including Annie Leibovitz (2009), Martin Parr (2008), Don McCullin (2007), David Bailey (2005) and Elliott Erwitt (2002)."


The official press release can be found here.

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12200910061?profile=originalDe Montfort University is recruiting students for the 2011/12 intake on its MA History of Photography and Practice course. The programme started in 2009 and his been widely acclaimed for its distinctive approach to the teaching of photographic history and its focus on handling original objects. The course has established close links with various photographic collections such as the National Media Museum, British Library, Birmingham Central Library and Wilson Centre of Photography.

Download the course poster here high res AAD_161_FINAL_High_Res.pdf or low res: AAD_161_FINAL_Low_Res.pdf.

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