I went to an interesting exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh entitled Photography: A Victorian Sensation. It just opened a couple of weeks ago and will continue until November 22, 2015. The exhibit was full of multimedia displays that traced the contributions of pioneers in the field of photography, including Frenchmen Daguerre and Niépce.
Two of the British inventors, William Henry Fox Talbot and Frederick Scott Archer, reaped little financial benefit for their contributions to photography, specifically calotype and wet plate collodion processes. Talbot was a man of means who seemed to be more upset that Daguerre published his process before Talbot could, thus receiving the glory. Archer, however, died penniless, or fauché (foe-shay), leaving a wife and three daughters in pretty dire circumstances.
There was also a tie-in to my current residence of St Andrews, Scotland. Robert Adamson of St Andrews and David Octavius Hill of Perth used Talbot’s calotype process to create thousands of sepia-toned images – portraits, landscapes, but most notably pictures of real people, such as the fishwives of St Andrews. Their output is impressive, considering that each print was a labor intensive work of art. The duo were particularly skilled at producing natural looking portraits, which is astonishing because the subjects had to remain completely still for long periods of time.