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12200914869?profile=originalIt was the Belle Époque, a time before air travel or radio, at the brink of a revolution in photography and filmmaking, when Burton Holmes (1870–1958) began a lifelong journey to bring the world home. From the grand boulevards of Paris to China's Great Wall, from the construction of the Panama canal to the 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Holmes delighted in finding "the beautiful way around the world" and made a career of sharing his stories, colorful photographs, and films with audiences across America.

As a young man, Holmes was mentored by John L. Stoddard, a pioneer of the U.S. travelecture circuit, who passed on his well-established mantle when he retired. Holmes roamed the globe throughout the summer and traversed the United States all winter, transforming the staid lecture tradition into an entertaining show. He coined the term "travelogue" in 1904 to advertise his unique performance and thrilled audiences with two-hour sets of stories timed to projections of multihued hand-painted glass-lantern slides and some of the first "moving pictures."

12200914895?profile=originalParis, Peking, Dehli, Dubrovnik, Moscow, Manila, Jakarta, Jerusalem: Burton Holmes was there. He visited every continent and nearly every country on the planet, shooting over 30,000 photographs and nearly 500,000 feet of film. This book represents the best of the Holmes archive, brimming with brilliant color photographs. A rare window on the world of 100 years ago, Burton Holmes Travelogues will transport you to a time that has all but evaporated, and inspire you to strike out on a journey of your own.

You can read an excerpt of the book here, and purchase it through the Amazon link on the right. A tribute site dedicated to Holmes can be found here which includes an archive of his photographs, background etc.



Photo: A Throne Room, Forbidden City, Peking, 1901; Burton Holmes

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Understanding the Fine Photography Market

12200912459?profile=originalFurther to Brewer's blog on collecting photography, I came across a useful article written by Sophie Wright who works form Magnum in London, which I hope will be of use to those BPH individuals thinking of venturing into this 'lucrative' market! Well, it seems that way to me after the record-breaking tintype of Billy the Kid.


Another useful, but dated (however, still relevant) read is a BBC/Penguin book published back in 1972 entitled Ways of Seeing by John Berger. You don't need to be an art historian to appreciate it. You can read it from the perspective of a photographer looking for an insight into how and why we see things the way we do, and the relationship between the image and artist, and between the image and the intended audience.

The book is still available from Amazon (use link on right to search for it), and it was to accompany the BBC TV series which sadly is not available on DVD. Thanks to modern technology, you can view it on youtube; the first of four segments can be seen below:


Photo: Copyright: Richard Denyer



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Brian May’s Brief History of 3D

brianMay-250px.jpg?width=200In a new 3D documentary commissioned for Sky 3D, Brian May’s Brief History of 3D takes the viewer on a fascinating journey from the gentle 3D of the Victorian era to the extreme out-of-the-screen 3D of the 1980s. The documentary will be screened on Sky 3D on 7 July 2011.

3D has endured a long bumpy journey. From William Friese Greene simply walking along a Hyde Park pathway in an 1893 3D short to Johnny Depp’s swashbuckling antics in Pirates of the Caribbean IV in 2011, 3D has come and gone several times. Some pundits are arguing that the current 3D era is already coming to an end, pointing to slowing 3D ticket sales; others are saying that there is no going back now and that, for the first time, technology and economics finally make 3D a viable form of mainstream entertainment.

Over the last 100 years, the 3D industry has been scattered with various attempts to lure audiences back into the movie theatres. It is this story that Brian May, ex-guitarist of rock band Queen, explores in the Sky 3D’s latest documentary commission, Brian May’s Brief History of 3D, scheduled for broadcast July 7th.

Not only is Brian May a qualified astro physicist, he is also a passionate advocate of stereoscopic 3D, particularly Victorian 3D of which he has accumulated a substantial collection of Victorian 3D memorabilia over the past forty years. Brian May’s lifelong 3D interest has materialised into a book, A Village Lost and Found, published in 2009. The book includes a proprietary 3D viewer known as the OWL, which brings the book’s 2D images into 3D life and was actually designed by Brian May himself.

Produced by Bigger Pictures in conjunction with Widescreen Productions ,who also produced Britain from the Sky 3D series, (which is currently being broadcast every Thursday on Sky 3D) Brian May’s 3D documentary is a genuinely fascinating look into stereo 3D right from the very early days of Victorian stereoscopic filming to the digital 3D of today. Clips include the insane film “Coming At Ya!” a 1980’s western film that, as you can probably guess from the title, used 3D as its main selling point with nearly every sequence featuring action jumping out of the screen. This is so rarely seen in today’s 3D movies and television shows. Yes, it is gimmicky, but still really fun now and again.

For more click here:

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Budding Collectors.

Dear All,

I have a recent interest in collecting photography.  'How to buy photographs' by Stuart Bennett is a good source of historical knowledge. Understanding how photography collections are considered and refused has provided a point of great interest. What prints are valuable and the reasons behind this? The book I have just noticed is from Christies collectors library.I collect books(in a v small way) on a regular basis. The photography books are used by me for lesson planning or just enjoying and deteriorate over time. The enjoyment of books causes de-valuing, that is not the case with photographs. They are appreciated and enjoyed without financial loss. (Normally)

I would like to go and see some exhibitions and I am based in the London area. Any recommendations or what to avoid would be much appreciated.  



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London's Victoria and Albert Museum is to open a new photography gallery expected to be in 2012. The outgoing Director Mark Jones has comitted the museum to creating the new and enlarged space for photography in what is now a furniture study room on the first floor. The current gallery in room 38A on the ground floor opened in 2003.

The V&A with its long association with photography since the 1850s has been criticised for failing to allow its dynamic photography curators to deal with photography in an appropriate setting. A problem that has failed to go away since the closing of the Canon sponsored Photography Gallery and a series of well-received specialist shows in the museum's exhibition space.

The opening of the National Media Museum's London presence Media Space just over the road and the re-opening of the Photographers' Gallery in its new building, both due in 2012, threatened to further show up the V&A's poor physical space for showcasing photography from its permanent collection.

Watch this space for more information as it becomes available.

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Job: NMeM Collections Assistant

This role is a job share opportunity, working 13 weeks of the year during school holidays only. You will provide high-quality administrative support to the Museum’s Collections & Knowledge and Programme teams.

It’s a rewarding role in a fascinating environment. Award winning, visionary and truly unique, the National Media Museum embraces photography, film, television, radio and the web. Part of the NMSI family of museums, it aims to engage, inspire and educate through comprehensive collections, innovative education programmes and a powerful yet sensitive approach to contemporary issues.


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Belfast Photo Festival 2011

12200914058?profile=originalA new biennial photographic festival, aimed at promoting some of the world's top talent behind the lens, is coming to Northern Ireland, its first major photographic event.  The importance of photography in Northern Ireland's visual culture and history is something that will be highlighted, while also embracing and showcasing the nations upcoming photographic talent both at home and abroad through seeking out new/emerging talent.

Organisers promise to "provide a forum and promote the growth of the current photographic infrastructure and practice throughout the country", as well as "supporting audience development across the arts and cultural sector in Belfast and Derry".

"Through a series of interactive events we hope to inspire the countries future photographers, artists and entrepreneurs, offering new, exciting, welcoming and sometimes challenging experiences to audiences through the festival's programme of events," festival organisers said.

The festival launches tonight at the Black Box in Belfast. Exhibitions will run from August 4-14, and details can be found here.

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12200913462?profile=originalNo austerity measures here as The Benaki Museum prepares to display a collection of early photography by James Robertson (1813-1888) who was one of the first prominent traveller-photographers to depict scenes of mid-nineteenth century Greece.
Of Scottish descent, he has been identified as the engraver James Robertson, who worked in London around 1830. He first settled in Constantinople in 1841, where he spent forty years of his life working as a master engraver in the imperial mint. His photography career began in the early 1850’s when he opened a photographer's studio in Peran, the European district of Constantinople. His photographs, which were immediately popular among the art lovers of his period, appeared in international exhibitions in Paris and London and were frequently reproduced in the leading periodical "The London Illustrated News". He died in 1888 in Yokohama.
Robertson earned his place in the history of photography with his coverage of the Crimean war, and with his photographs of Constantinople and other historical Mediterranean sites, such as Athens, Malta, Damascus, Egypt and the Holy Land.
A close study of his work in Athens reveals that he first visited the city in 1853-1854 and probably returned later with Felice Beato, another renowned, somewhat younger, photographer.
The monuments of the Acropolis (Propylaea, Temple of Athena Nike, Parthenon, Erechtheum) and the city of Athens (Temple of Olympian Zeus, Tower of the Winds, Gate of Athena Archegetis, Lysicrates Monument) as well as the Temples of Poseidon in Sounion, Aphaia on the island of Aegina, and Apollo in Corinth were magnificently portrayed by his camera while contemporary Athens was only infrequently depicted or used as a setting for its ancient remains.
Although he rarely photographed people in his early work, in later work he handled them with consummate skill as a means of alleviating the monotony of ancient ruins and as an allusion to contemporary paintings.
James Robertson's collection of photographs of Greece was published simultaneously in London and Constantinople. One of the few remaining portfolios (44 photos) entitled "Photographs by James Robertson, Athens and Grecian Antiquities" was donated by Rena Andreadi to the Photographic Archives of the Benaki Museum where it is treasured as a precious historical document and a rare example of early photographic art.

The exhibition features 38 photographs included in the portfolio: "Photographs by James Robertson: Athens and Grecian Antiquities" (1853-1854). The portfolio was donated to the Benaki Museum Photographic Archive in 1989 by Rena Andreadi.  Details of the exhibition can be found here.


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12200921659?profile=originalIn a work of spectacular imagination and remarkable synthesis, Robert Crawford celebrates St Andrews, the first town in the English-speaking world to have its people, buildings and natural environment thoroughly documented through photography. The Beginning and the End of the World tells the stories of several pioneering Scottish photographers. Yet it also places them within the extraordinary intellectual life of an eccentric society rich in sometimes apocalyptically-minded Victorian inventors and authors whose work has had an international impact.

Crawford is Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at St Andrews University. He received his MA from Glasgow University and his DPhil from Oxford. He is a founding Fellow of the English Association and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He has taught at the universities of Oxford and Glasgow, and has been at St Andrews since 1989. 

A Kindle version is also available to download, and a review by The Scotsman can be found here.

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Job: Photograph Conservator, Qatar

Photograph conservator, Qatar Museums Authority, Media Museum Project, Doha, Qatar. The Media Museum collection consists of over 80,000 19th and 20th century photographs, cameras and cinema equipment. Photographs
range from early daguerreotypes through albums and photographically-illustrated books to contemporary colour photographs.

Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) has acquired masterpieces through the years, which QMA is committed to preserve and showcase to the world. QMA is dedicated to accomplish the vision of His Highness The Emir of Qatar through education and cultural interaction with communities in and outside of Qatar.

QMA's mission is to unite and focus the efforts of all museums in the State of Qatar for the acquisition, preservation and interpretation of collections and monuments held in trust for the Qatari people, to be shared with national and tourist audiences. In addition QMA will travel exhibitions or loan to other institutions to promote QMA's mission abroad.

Brief Description/ Purpose of Job: As the first full-time conservator to be hired for the Media Museum project you will be responsible for the long term preservation of the collections. You will be responsible for setting up the conservation laboratory, treatment projects on rare photographs and planning an efficient workflow.

Detailed Description/Job Responsibilities: Ability to perform comprehensive treatments on a wide variety of photographic materials, advising on the conservation aspects of any existing and new stores or display areas, advising on the display and use of the collections, carrying out condition surveys and preservation needs assessments, reparing written reports on survey findings, re-housing the collection as needed, advising the curatorial staff on conservation matters, ordering of conservation supplies, keeping up to date with developments in conservation and helping to organize an international conference and workshop on photographic conservation in the Middle East to take place in 2012.

Job Requirements: MA or Accreditation with ICON in photographic conservation, qualifications in paper or photograph conservation completed recognized programs. 5 years professional work experience, a portfolio of conservation treatments and professional activities plus competence references, knowledge of Arabic a plus.

Additional Details: Salary range depending on qualifications 19000-26000 Qatari Riyals per month (approx. UKP38,500-52,500 per year) (approx. $62,500-85,500 per year). Position includes accommodation.

How To Apply: Preferred method of application is using our Recruitment Website.

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It seems as if it was just yesterday that a new record was set for a 19th century photograph. Oh wait, it was just a few days ago that a Le Gray sold for USD $1,305,000. That didn't last long. Yesterday, William Koch, a brother of billionaires Charles and David Koch, of the politically active members of an oil-and-gas family purchased the only known image of Billy the Kid for a staggering 2.3 million (USD) or 2.6 million with commission. More information here:


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Photo Archive: Azerbaijani

12200920866?profile=originalNo! - it's not about this year's Eurovision Song Contest. And I know it's not quite British too. But what early photography archives do not include anything British?

This online, non-commercial, photo library has over 5,000 photographs, most of them from four main collections: the archives of Narmin Tahirzade, the photo archive of Adalat Tahirzade, the Institute of Manuscripts and photos from private family collections. For example, the material from Azerbaijan's Institute of Manuscripts includes collections of rare photographs belonging to Salman Mumtaz (1884-1941) and collections from prominent figures in Azerbaijani literature and the arts. Photographs from all three major collections have been chosen by professional researchers and are accompanied by information about their history and the people and places shown.

The online archive can be found here.


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12200920693?profile=originalAfter the record-breaking price paid in Vienna just a few weeks ago for a rare Leica no. 7, the auction world has announced that yet another world record has been broken. This time it is for a 19th-century photograph of a beautifully composed seascape by Gustave Le Gray.

A fierce bidding war erupted at Rouillac's photography auction last Saturday in Vendome, France between a US bidder, a French bidder and another from an unspecified oil-producing state. The hammer went down at  €917,000 ($1,305,000), including the buyer's premium to the Houston oil magnate.

One of the most important photographers of the 19th century and a great traveler, Le Gray started making daguerrotypes in 1847. By 1855 he was Napoleon III's  photographer, while producing his most famous images of seascapes.  Four prints exist of the image, "Bateaux Quittant le Port du Havre" ("Boats Leaving the Port of Le Havre"), which dates from 1856 or 1857. It measures roughly 12 by 16 inches and is an albumen print.

The full auction results can be found here. If you have any of the other three prints, drop me a line ...


Photo:  Gustave Le Gray's "Bateaux Quittant le Port du Havre" (1856-57).


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University of St Andrews - School of Art History. We are seeking to appoint a temporary Teaching Fellow with expertise in any area of the History of Photography to contribute to the School's undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. You should have or be about to complete your Ph.D. and will have some teaching experience at university level. The post will be for 9 months from 5 September 2011 to 15 June 2012.

You will be required to teach two Honours modules and one Postgraduate module in subjects to be agreed with the Head of School and will contribute to the team-taught 2nd-year modules on 'History & Theory of European Art, Architecture and Design, from the French Revolution to Vienna 1900' and 'Art, Culture and Politics from 1900 to Now'.

* Applications will be considered from candidates with less experience/knowledge of the area for appointment on Grade 5, salary range £24,370 - 29,099 per annum pro rata, with the duties to be agreed and altered accordingly.

Informal enquiries may be made to the Head of School, Brendan Cassidy:


£29,972 - £35,788 per annum, pro rata

Start: 5 September 2011

Fixed Term for 9 months
Interviews will be held on 5 August 2011

Ref No: CD1001

Closing Date: 21 July 2011

Further Particulars -

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12200919085?profile=originalRecently published to accompany the exhibition, this catalogue, in three languages, has been written by leading experts on the work of Eugène Atget. Following a short text in which the curators set out the exhibition’s aims, Guillaume Le Gall of the Sorbonne will analyse the way in which Atget’s concern to photograph a Paris that was disappearing locates him in a context that first arose in the first half of the 19th century.

The article by Anne Cartier-Bresson and Marsha Sirven, heads of the Photography Restoration and Conservation Studio of the City of Paris, looks at the technical procedures used by Atget and at the criteria applied in the conservation and restoration of his work. The English writer Geoff Dyer offers a personal portrait of Atget and his work, while Michael Thomas Gunther investigates the relationship between Atget, Man Ray and Surrealist circles in 1920s Paris. 
The catalogue includes reproductions of all the works in the exhibition, organised into the 12 sections listed above. The use of 4-colour printing allows for an appreciation of the tonalities that Atget’s images have acquired over time.
Finally, the catalogue includes a highly complete and detailed biography of Atget, a select bibliography, an exhaustive list of exhibitions, and a list of public and private collections in which his work is to be found. All have been prepared by Françoise Reynaud, Chief Curator at the Musée Carnavalet, one of the leading experts on the work of Atget and co-curator of this exhibition.

A press release with a very useful read on Atget can be found below:


The exhibition will subsequently travel to Rotterdam (the Nederlands Fotomuseum, 24 September 2011 to 3 January 2012); Paris (the Musée Carnavalet, 17 April to 25 July 2012); and Sydney (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 21 August to 15 November 2012). However, for those unable to get there, FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE has created a corresponding monographic website in order to expand the contents of the exhibition and to make it as accessible to the public as possible - great!. Just click on the link here.

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12200918459?profile=originalJust came across this V&A course which might be of interest to all you BPH members out there.

The course looks at original prints in the V&A collection and investigates the work of British photographers from the nineteenth century to the present. It also discusses key ideas and questions shaping the history of photography as a medium for creative expression. Another area touched upon is the invention and reception of British photography, its varying uses from fine art to photojournalism, and its relationship to major art movements.

All sounds very interesting to me! Details of how to book a place can be found here. Don't worry - it's not until next year, but uptake quite likely to be extremely popular, as with most V&A's courses.

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12200916070?profile=originalAn 1873 image showing north Londoners on a double-decker coach and horses heading towards Holloway. What about a 1906 snap of an early 18th century coaching inn at the top of Highgate West Hill, which proudly bears the sign “The Flask Tavern”. Another photograph, one of 1,000 in the collection dating from the 1880s, is by JF Hows which shows the middle classes gathering on the wide open spaces near Highgate ponds to watch a swimming competition for the King’s Cup in 1906.

This publication, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Hornsey Historical Society, presents a selection of over 120 19th- and early 20th-Century photographs from the North Middlesex Photographic Society’s survey and record of Middlesex. They record long-vanished scenes of Crouch End, Edmonton, Enfield, Hampstead, Highgate, Hornsey, Palmers Green, Stroud Green, Tottenham, and Wood Green. Details of the photographers and locations are given.

A Vision of Middlesex, by Janet Owen and John Hinshelwood, is available from the Hornsey Historical Society for £15 plus £2.50 p&p. Call 020-8348 8429 or click here. Or you can try the Amazon link on the right.


Photo: Archway Tavern bottom of Highgate Hill

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1972-351.26.jpg?width=200This past weekend an exhibition of arctic photographs by Alexander Rodger and David Dickson, 1894-7, opened in St Andrews to complement an international conference entitled Polar Visual Culture.  The exhibition is at the School of Art History, open Mon-Fri, 9am-4.45pm until 30 September.

The conference blurb:  

The polar environment, and its potential destruction, is now receiving heightened attention in the mass media, with extensive scientific study and urgent results on climate change reported daily. Our objective is to focus attention upon the unique, prolific and hitherto under-examined visual culture - painting and graphic illustration, expedition and frontier narratives, installations and poetic geographies, films and photography - that the expeditions to the two polar regions have inspired since the early nineteenth century, and which forms a fundamental part of our perception of these environments.

All done now but abstracts are here: PVC Abstracts

And further detail about the conference: here

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1866: Early High Mountain Photography

12200917066?profile=originalIf climbing, photography and the Alps are your cup of tea, then you're in luck!

This is the first time that the life’s work of this important photographer (who is usually a footnote in the history of photography), a total of 1,200 photographs, is being exhibited. Born in Biel, Switzerland, Jules Beck worked in his family's textile business in Strasbourg, France before taking up his real passion in life at the age of 41 - mountain photography. Beck started climbing at the age of 24 by making an early ascent of Monte Rosa, the highest peak in Switzerland, and joined the Swiss Alpine Club as soon as it was formed in 1863.

As of 1866 and several times a year over a period of 24 years, Beck undertook his almost 20-hour-long excursions up as far as the highest Alpine summits. Lugging a dry-plate camera the size of a microwave oven up snowy peaks, Beck became a pioneering adventure photographer. Until that time, artists had been using the newly invented camera to take pictures of mountains—usually from afar. Few actually dragged the bulky equipment into the hills. It was rare that he was able to take more than a dozen successful photographs a day. The mountain weather conditions often played tricks on him, especially as in those days the new dry plates required very long exposure times.

12200917296?profile=originalFor the next quarter of a century, Beck explored the Swiss Alps, laboriously making hundreds of glass-plate exposures. You can now view the fruits of his hard labour in a special exhibition here, and some further background on Beck in a news report here.



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Launching the scheme at a press conference this morning in London, Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said that thousands of books and papers from the British Library’s collection will soon be made available online through a new partnership with Google. Google and the British Library will work together to digitise 250,000 out-of-copyright texts from the 18th and 19th centuries. The British Library’s digital collection is expected to increase from 1.25m items to 50m by 2020, as it seeks to find new ways to open its collection to academics and members of the public, often free of charge. Scanning the texts without Google’s help would cost the library millions of pounds.

12200915478?profile=originalThis is in addition to the release last week of a new (and free) reading app for Apple’s iPad which offers access to over a thousand scanned 19th Century books. The Library says the app will be updated later this summer to offer more than 60,000 titles which form part of its 19th Century Historical Collection, and will provide a wealth of historical, scientific and cultural content for the researcher and more general enthusiast alike.

The full news report can be found here. Things can only get better .....

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