Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Development of Natal Photography: Burgess, Pulleyn, Brock, Fry and James Lloyd

In his History of Old Durban G Russell gives the following information:

Slightly later than the developments in Europe, Natal photographers were becoming more numerous and trying new processes. Mentioned above is the wet collodian process introduced by Frederick Scott Archer in March 1851. This used glass negatives to produce paper prints. Glass made a better negative because it did not give the grainy effect resulting from fibrous paper. But the process was time-consuming and cumbersome. Nevertheless, it became very popular and to this method we owe the pictorial records of the Crimean War and the American Civil War.

Russell makes the point that the collodian pictures faded into 'ghost shadows', perhaps more so in Natal's sub-tropical climate. Not many examples remain in collections. Most of the photographers named by Russell moved on to other methods.

Brock had a studio in Pietermaritzburg by 1873. It's amusing that he offers 'Portraits taken daily, at all Hours' and we imagine Mr Brock being so enthusiastic that he was prepared to be up from sunrise to sundown to fulfill his customers' wish for photographic immortality. Burgess had moved up the north coast to Verulam, presumably drawing his clientele from the immigrants who had settled there.

Fry's advert in the Almanac of 1867 shows that his main business was in cartes de visites. A dozen copies at 17/6 seems a very reasonable rate, though each additional figure was 4 shillings extra.

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