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Significant PEOPLE in the early history of Photography


b. 1821; d. 14 January 1848

Little is known about him, his brother, John, being relatively famous. Poor health prevented him from following an engineering career. He had a short business association with David Octavius Hill. In this partnership it would appear that Adamson was predominantly the technician, Hill the artist, and indeed when calotypes were exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, artistic credit was given to Hill, the photography to Adamson.

The partnership arose from the need to make a record of a large number of people who were the founding fathers of the Free Church of Scotland (see Hill), but in fact their work consists of much more than that. There are numerous portraits, there are pictures which give us some glimpse of the times in which they lived, and some splendid landscape pictures.

The partnership was short, lasting only four years or so, and broken by Adamson's early death at the age of twenty-seven. Nevertheless it was a remarkably productive one, and quite stunning photographs still remain.

ANNAN, James Craig

b. 8 March 1864; d. 5 June 1946

The son of the Scottish photographer Thomas Annan, he is particularly remembered as an expert in photogravure. His re-photographing of Hill and Adamson's pictures revived interest in the latter. He was made a member of the Linked Ring in 1894, and his work was published in a number of editions of Camera Work, which describes him as "one of the foremost artists in photography."

The Royal Photographic Society has some sixty photographs, mostly photogravures, which were acquired from the photographer and others from the 1920s.

ANNAN, Thomas

b.1829; d.1887

Annan was a Scottish portrait photographer who started practising in 1857. He bought a hansom cab, converting it into a darkroom so that he would go on location photographing buildings and art treasures. He is remembered for his photographs of the explorer Sir David Livingstone (1864) and other contemporaries. What is noticeable is the absence of "props" and stereotyped poses which were in vogue at the time. Thomas Annan lived most of his life in Glasgow, but moved to Edinburgh, living with his brother, John, at Rock House, Calton Hill, Edinburgh from 1869. Rock House had previously been the home of DO Hill.

Annan also took some fine pictures of the slum areas of Glasgow for the Glasgow Improvement Trust; they are not purely record photographs but portray vividly the people in those areas.

When he died, his sons James Craig Annan and John ran the business.


b. 1846; d. 26 Aug 1913

Anderson was an Opthalmic surgeon whose spare time interests included photography. He made his own camera equipment, and enthusiastically promoted the use of photography in geology. Whilst working as a lecturer on volcanoes, he took many photographs of glaciers and mountains, some of which gained awards. One of his concerns, evident in his work, was for human suffering arising from volcanic and other disasters.

Some of his work is stored in the Yorkshire Museum.

ARAGO, Francois

b. 16 February 1786; d. 2 October 1853

Arago was a French physicist and Director of the Paris Observatory, who invented a number of optical instruments. He was secretary of the Academy of Sciences, and was also an influential politician, and it was he who was instrumental in ensuring publicity and funding for Daguerre in 1839. Arago was born at Estagel, a small village near Perpignan, in the département of Pyrenees-Orientales, France. He was the eldest of four brothers. Jean (1788 - 1836) emigrated to North America and became a general in the Mexican army.

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