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Francis Frith
Portrait, Turkish Summer Costume, 1857 - David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1966, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Francis Frith
Francis Frith

Francis Frith

Country: United Kingdom
Birth: 1822 | Death: 1898

Francis Frith was an English photographer of the Middle East and many towns in the United Kingdom. Frith was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, attending Quaker schools at Ackworth and Quaker Camp Hill in Birmingham (c. 1828–1838), before he started in the cutlery business. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1843, recuperating over the next two years. In 1850 he started a photographic studio in Liverpool, known as Frith & Hayward. A successful grocer, and later, printer, Frith fostered an interest in photography, becoming a founding member of the Liverpool Photographic Society in 1853. Frith sold his companies in 1855 in order to dedicate himself entirely to photography. He journeyed to the Middle East on three occasions, the first of which was a trip to Egypt in 1856 with very large cameras (16" x 20"). He used the collodion process, a major technical achievement in hot and dusty conditions. Photographs taken by Frith are held in the Conway Library of Art and Architecture at the Courtauld in London.

When he had finished his travels in the Middle East in 1859, he opened the firm of Francis Frith & Co. in Reigate, Surrey, as the world's first specialist photographic publisher. In 1860, he married Mary Ann Rosling (sister of Alfred Rosling, the first treasurer of the Photographic Society) and embarked upon a colossal project—to photograph every town and village in the United Kingdom; in particular, notable historical or interesting sights. Initially he took the photographs himself, but as success came, he hired people to help him and set about establishing his postcard company, a firm that became one of the largest photographic studios in the world. Within a few years, over two thousand shops throughout the United Kingdom were selling his postcards.

Many of his photographs were collected into published volumes. Initially these works were compiled by established publishing companies. However, by the 1860s, Firth realized that he could profit from publishing his own images and established the publishing company F. Frith & Co.

Frith died at his villa in Cannes, France, on 25 February 1898, aged 75. His family continued the firm, which was finally closed in 1971. Following closure of the business, Bill Jay, one of Britain's first photography historians, identified the archive as being nationally important, and "at risk". Jay managed to persuade McCann-Erikson the London advertising agency to approach their client Rothmans of Pall Mall on 14 December 1971 to purchase the archive to ensure its safety. Rothmans went ahead and acquired the archive within weeks.

Frith was re-launched in 1975 as "The Francis Frith Collection" by John Buck, a Rothmans executive, with the intention of making the Frith photographs available to as wide an audience as possible.

On 25 August 1977, Buck bought the archive from Rothmans, and has run it as an independent business since that time – trading as The Francis Frith Collection. In 2016 the company completed a two-year project to scan the entire archive and now holds over 330,000 high resolution digital images. The company website enables visitors to browse all 330,000 Frith photographs, depicting some 7,000 cities, towns and villages.

Source: Wikipedia


Born into a Quaker family in 1822 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Francis Frith was a remarkable person, philosophical and devoutly religious by nature and pioneering in outlook. He was a complex and multi-talented man who had a formidable instinct for business. By the time he founded his photographic publishing company in 1860 he had already established a wholesale grocery business in Liverpool which was so successful that by the mid 1850s he was able to sell it for a price which made him a the equivalent of a multi-millionaire today.

Frith had been a founder member of the Liverpool Photographic Society in 1853 – only 14 years after the invention of photography, 1839. Between 1856 and 1860, as a gentleman of leisure, he made three pioneering and sometimes dangerous photographic expeditions to the Middle East, taking bulky cameras, equipment and glass plates with him and travelling by boat, donkey, mule and camel. These journeys took him to Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, and established his reputation as an outstanding pioneer photographer. The photographs he took on these expeditions were marketed by the London firm of Negretti & Zambra as hugely popular stereoscopic views, and were also published in London and New York in limited edition part-works of prints, with sales totalling over £3 million in today’s value.

Source: www.francisfrith.com


 

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France
1946
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Latest Interviews

Exclusive Interview with Patrick Cariou
For more than 25 years, French photographer Patrick Cariou has traveled to places around the globe, documenting people living on the fringes of society. Whether photographing surfers, gypsies, Rastafarians or the rude boys of Kingston, Cariou celebrates those who meet the struggles of life with honor, dignity and joy. Bringing together works from his groundbreaking monographs including Surfers, Yes Rasta, Trenchtown Love and Gypsies, Patrick Cariou: Works 1985–2005 (published by Damiani) takes us on a scenic journey around the world, offering an intimate and captivating look at cultures that distance themselves from the blessings and curses of modernity.
Exclusive Interview with Niko J. Kallianiotis
Niko J. Kallianiotis' Athênai in Search of Home (published by Damiani) presents photos taken in and around Athens, the city in which he grew up. The images reflect the artist's eagerness to assimilate back into a home that feels at once foreign and familiar. Throughout the years the city and the surrounding territories have experienced their share of socio-economic struggles and topographic transformations that have altered its identity. The city of Athens in Kallianiotis' photographs is elliptically delineated as a vibrant environment that binds together luxury and social inequality. The photographer depicts a city in which the temporal and the spatial elements often clash with each other while conducting his research for a home that has changed over the years as much as he did.
Exclusive Interview with Ave Pildas
My new book STAR STRUCK focuses on the people and places of Hollywood Boulevard. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles in the '70s, I started shooting there. I was working at Capital Records, just a block and a half away, as a one of four art directors. At lunchtime, we would go out to eat at the Brown Derby, Musso, and Franks, or some other local restaurant, and I got to observe all the activity that was occurring on Hollywood Boulevard. It was amazing and it was fun, even though the location was ''on the turn''.
Exclusive Interview with Elaine Mayes
In The Haight-Ashbury Portraits, 1967-1968 (published by Damiani) during the waning days of the Summer of Love, Elaine Mayes embarked on a set of portraits of youth culture in her neighborhood. Mayes was a young photographer living in San Francisco during the 1960s. She had photographed the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and, later that year the hippie movement had turned from euphoria to harder drugs, and the Haight had become less of a blissed-out haven for young people seeking a better way of life than a halfway house for runaway teens.
Exclusive Interview with Theophilus Donoghue
A new release, Seventy-thirty (published by Damiani) depicts humanity's various faces and expressions, from metropolitans to migrants, unseen homeless to celebrities such as Robert De Niro, Muhammad Ali, Rene Magritte, Janis Joplin, and Andy Warhol. Steve Schapiro photographs early New York skateboarders while Theophilus Donoghue documents current Colombian breakdancers. Alternately profound and playful, father and son's photographs capture a vast range of human emotions and experiences. For this project, Schapiro selected images from the 60s civil rights movement and, with Donoghue, provided photos from today's Black Lives Matter protests and environmental rallies.
Exlusive Interview with Jessica Todd Harper about her Book Here
Like 17th-century Dutch painters who made otherwise ordinary interior scenes appear charged with meaning, Pennsylvania-based photographer Jessica Todd Harper looks for the value in everyday moments. Her third monograph Here (Published by Damiani) makes use of what is right in front of the artist, Harper shows how our unexamined or even seemingly dull surroundings can sometimes be illuminating
Exclusive Interview with Roger Ballen about his Book Boyhood
In Boyhood (published by Damiani) Roger Ballen's photographs and stories leads us across the continents of Europe, Asia and North America in search of boyhood: boyhood as it is lived in the Himalayas of Nepal, the islands of Indonesia, the provinces of China, the streets of America. Each stunning black-and-white photograph-culled from 15,000 images shot during Ballen's four-year quest-depicts the magic of adolescence revealed in their games, their adventures, their dreams, their Mischief. More of an ode than a documentary work, Ballen's first book is as powerful and current today as it was 43 years ago-a stunning series of timeless images that transcend social and cultural particularities.
Exclusive Interview with Kim Watson
A multi-dimensional artist with decades of experience, Kim Watson has written, filmed, and photographed subjects ranging from the iconic entertainers of our time to the ''invisible'' people of marginalized communities. A highly influential director in music videos' early days, Watson has directed Grammy winners, shot in uniquely remote locations, and written across genres that include advertising, feature films for Hollywood studios such as Universal (Honey), MTV Films, and Warner Brothers, and publishers such as Simon & Schuster. His passionate marriage of art and social justice has been a life-long endeavor, and, in 2020, after consulting on Engagement & Impact for ITVS/PBS, Kim returned to the streets to create TRESPASS, documenting the images and stories of LA's unhoused. TRESPASS exhibited at The BAG (Bestor Architecture Gallery) in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, September 17, 2022 – October 11, 2022.
Exclusive Interview with Julia Dean, Founder of the L.A. Project
Julia Dean, Founder of the Los Angeles Center of Photography, and its executive director for twenty-two years, began The L.A. Project in 2021. A native Nebraskan, Julia has long sought to create a special project where love for her adopted L.A., and her passion for documentary photography can be shared on a grander scale.
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All About Photo Awards 2023
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