Isle of Wight Photographers
A growing database of photographers offering
services on the Isle of Wight
c1850 - c1940
A page from my family album
Click on above image to enter database
Latest update 04 September 2017
Photographer Groundsell photo added
Almost from the very beginnings of the art, the Isle of Wight has always been a popular location for photographers. The unique scenery, historic buildings, landed gentry, royal patronage, yachting activities and, of course, abundance of tourists, have provided ample subjects to photograph.
This project to develop a database of the early photographers' activities stemmed from my own family history research which has its roots firmly planted on the Island. Indeed, this site forms part of my family history website at www.childsweb.net in case you arrived here via another link. Having inherited a good number of unannotated photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, like many other family historians, I was imbued with the desire to identify them. Thus, I started the task of compiling a list of photographers, addresses, dates and negative numbers in the belief that, if I could date the photographs, I might stand a chance of identifying the subjects!
As a family historian, I had access to resources such as trade directories, census returns, etc, to augment my list, but I quickly found that I still had insufficient data within my own collection of photographs to even contemplate dating them. Also, realising that other family historians were probably in the same predicament, I 'went public' late in 1999 by announcing my interests. Since then, the database has grown enormously and, judging by the regular comments received, is a useful facility.
However, there are still plenty of gaps in the database and I would welcome any further 'evidence' of the photographers or their work that would make it more complete. Knowledge of dated photographs and/or negative numbers would be especially appreciated. Remember, the more data we can include, the more useful the facility will become.
I hope you enjoy browsing this site and will find the database helpful.
Please e-mail any comments or additional information to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am indebted to the many readers who have contributed information to this database to make it more useful, but special thanks must go to Ann & Les Barrett for the many adverts and press cutting from the local newspapers, and also Angela McMurtry & Dave Peach for their trade directory lookups.
I am also indebted to David Simkin for supplying
historical notes on the IOW photographers who had a Sussex connection. David is
undertaking research into the lives and careers of photographers active in Sussex during
the Victorian and Edwardian periods and is willing to assist researchers in this area.
You can contact David directly at email@example.com.
Likewise, I am also indebted to Tim Blackhouse for information on photographers who had interests in Portsmouth, as presented on his website history.inportsmouth.co.uk.
There are many excellent books (and websites) available presenting picture postcards and photos taken by the Island's photographers; those recording scenes and events around the turn of the century being fairly plentiful. These can be of great interest to family historians in providing background knowledge on where their ancestors lived and events they experienced. However, few will be of much direct help in identifying or dating one's own photographs as often little space is devoted to the person behind the lens. Of course, there is always the chance that a reader will spot an ancestor's name on an annotated photo of the local cricket team! A bibliography may be included in a future update of this site, though some books are already referenced in the notes for particular photographers.
However, one book which is highly recommended as a comprehensive source of information on the lives and careers of IOW Photographers is Isle of Wight Photographers, 1840-1940 by Raymond V Turley (published 2001 - ISBN 0-854-32744-4). This book complements my database by providing significantly more trade directory references, etc, on a greater number of photographers together with newspaper articles, mini-biographies, exhibitions surveys, various distribution analyses and much more.
For further information, contact: The Publications Officer, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hants, SO17 1BJ (tel 023 8059 3457 or fax 023 8059 5451 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note - for copyright reasons, none of the material on this website has been derived from the above book.
Specialist books on the techniques of dating of old photographs can also be very useful, especially in respect of identifying the type of photograph and its period of usage. However, in my experience, unless there is an obvious 'clue', dating is only possible generally to within 10 years. An expert in fashion able to recognise the subtle differences in dress styles may be able to improve on this - but did Island ladies follow London fashions immediately?
Readers are invited to look at the dated photos on my family history website for comparison, most of which were taken by Island photographers in the late 19th century. It might be possible to spot the same studio 'props'. Just follow the link to 'My Gallery' at www.childsweb.net.
For anyone interested in old photos taken by Ryde photographers, I recommend they visit the Historic Ryde Society website at http://historicrydesociety.com where there are many examples and related information.
Gordon Childs © 2000-2010
Site last updated 04 September 2017