The history of photography and the competition between its British and French inventors will be explored as part of a major exhibition that will look at image-sharing in the Victorian era
Half of a stereoscopic albumen print, 1860s, by Francis Bedford, from his series ‘South Wales Illustrated’
According to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the exhibition Photography: A Victorian Sensation will focus on the Victorian craze for photography and ‘examine how it has influenced the way we capture and share images today when more photographs are taken in two minutes than were taken in the whole of the 19th century’.
Alison Morrison Low, principal curator of Science at National Museums Scotland, said: ‘Just as today we love to document the world around us photographically, so too were the Victorians obsessed with taking and sharing photographs.’
Low added: ‘Photography: A Victorian Sensation will transport visitors back to the 19th century, linking the Victorian craze for photography with the role it plays in everyday life today.’
The show will trace the history of photography from its birth in the modern form in 1839, until 1900.
It will look at the Victorian ‘craze’ for collecting cartes-de-visite, driven by the desire to share images and put them in photo albums.
The popularity of stereoscopic photography will also be put under the spotlight, alongside the ‘cross-channel competition’ between the founding fathers of photography who revealed their respective inventions to the world in 1839: British-born William Henry Fox Talbot and Frenchman Louis Daguerre.
Visitors will be able to ‘enter the world of 1851 Great Exhibition and snap their own pictures inside the photographer’s studio’, say organisers. ‘Images and apparatus will illustrate the changing techniques used by photographers and studios during the 19th century, and the ways in which photography became an increasingly accessible part of everyday life…’
Low continued: ‘The period we’re examining may be beyond living memory, but the people featured in these early images are not so different to us.’
Photography: A Victorian Sensation runs from 19 June-22 November at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh.
• Earlier this month, experts warned of an impending photographic ‘Armageddon’ where precious digital images risk being lost to future generations if they are not printed out and properly archived.