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14 Portraits That Welcome the Spring Season

I know, I know, we’ve got a while to go before spring is officially here.

But why not look forward to warmer days and more sunshine?!

Spring is one of my favorite times of year, especially for photography.

So much comes back to life that makes for gorgeous, detail-rich photos.

That includes portraits!

With that in mind, I’ve put together a collection of 14 beautiful springtime portraits that will help inspire your creativity in the coming months.

Each portrait is a prime example of how you can use the unique attributes of springtime to your advantage.

Have a look, learn a few tricks, and get ready for spring!

Focus on Action

Springtime is filled with tons of action in the natural world, so why not mimic that with what’s happening in the portrait you create?

Using activities to loosen up a portrait subject isn’t a new trick, to be sure. But aside from summer, there’s really no better time to incorporate action into your portraits than spring.

Looking at the image above, you get a sense of the sheer joy of the moment that the grandfather and his grandson are having.

The documentary style portrait has a sense of genuineness, as though we’re silently watching this moment unfold. This level of engagement wouldn’t have been possible if this was a more formal portrait, say, with the two sitting in the grass looking directly at the camera.

Using action in springtime portraits also helps you capture the essence of the season: it’s a time to explore after a long winter and enjoy the longer days and more sunshine.

Again, in the image above, we see how the act of the children running helps create a much more dynamic shot – the act of running toward the camera gives the photo a nice sense of movement.

What’s more, springtime is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the additional hours of sunlight.

Here, the setting sun adds a warmth to the photo that’s indicative of spring, and the long shadows it casts adds depth to the image.

Mind the Hands

If you ask any portrait photographer what the hardest thing about portraiture is, a lot of them will say that it’s helping clients figure out what to do with their hands.

Hands can get awkward really fast because most of us have no idea what to do with them when we’re being photographed.

However, giving your subjects something to hold (and, as noted above, something to do) will help avoid the awkward hands in favor of a more relaxed portrait.

In the sample above, simply giving the kids some bubbles helps create a much more compelling shot. Their positioning is relaxed, and their expressions are perfectly candid.

What’s more, the shot gives us a full view of the greenery around the kids. Incorporating natural elements into the frame helps amplify the springtime theme.

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Of course, implementing a prop isn’t always in the cards.

For example, if the scene already has a lot of color or texture, like the one shown above, incorporating a prop will only muddy the composition.

Instead, don’t be afraid to go the simple route and have the subject cross their arms, put their hands in their pockets, or even reach their arms outward.

In the image above, we see how this idea is implemented to perfection – the model looks relaxed, her hands and arms aren’t distracting, and the foliage and flowers around her add gorgeous depth and a springtime feel to the shot.

Find Alternative Points of View

When I think of spring, I think of two things: color and fun.

As noted above, incorporating springtime colors into your portraits helps elevate the shot and give viewers a greater sense of the rebirth the world undertakes once spring arrives.

Regarding fun, we’ve seen how having the subjects engage in an activity can lead to a more compelling portrait.

But there’s another way that you can have a little fun too…

By using unexpected camera angles to shoot your portraits, you immediately create something that has a greater ability to catch the viewer’s eye.

In the portrait above, you can see how the top-down view makes one think of laying in the grass on a warm spring day. To further the fun theme, the subject’s hair adds a bit of whimsy that makes the shot that much more interesting to view.

Using this top-down view doesn’t have to be so extreme, either.

In this example, we see how taking a high perspective allowed the photographer to elongate the model’s body.

What’s more, by taking this point of view, the photographer was able to incorporate the beautiful blue flowers into the shot. The flowers help to frame the subject nicely, while the blurriness of the flowers in the foreground gives the photo greater dimension when compared to the sharpness of focus on the model’s face.

Spring is the ideal time to utilize a low shooting perspective as well.

Like the previous image, this one makes use of foreground interest – the flowers – to create that springtime vibe in the shot while also improving the depth of the image.

The soft, warm light of the setting sun is a perfect match for this shot, too – with the foreground interest and the action of the model throwing the flower petals in the air, the scene is perfect for backlighting for a gently silhouetted shot.

Try a Faceless Portrait

With so much going on in a springtime landscape – the colors, textures, and shapes, for example – you can get away with using your portrait subject in a support role rather than a primary role.

An interesting way to do that is to create a faceless portrait like the one seen above.

Though it might seem counterintuitive to create a faceless portrait, as you can see in the image above, just because you don’t see the person’s face doesn’t mean that you can’t still connect with them in a very real way.

In fact, faceless portraits can almost seem more intimate because it’s as though we see the scene without the subject knowing it.

I know…it’s a bit voyeuristic, but the simplicity of a faceless portrait can be quite powerful, so long as there are details in the shot (like the large tree) that help retain the viewer’s interest.

Faceless portraits are also an opportunity to highlight the relationship the subject has with the environment or with another person.

In the image above, the manner in which the daughter is leading her mother along creates a sweet dynamic that makes you think of your own children or younger siblings.

But note how the way the image was framed helps put the beauty of this relationship on display in the context of the springtime environment – the field of dandelions adds excellent texture to the foreground while the distant trees help to define the background space.

Again, we see how springtime is ideal for backlit portraits as well, with the glow of the sun adding warmth to the shot while also highlighting the white, puffy dandelions.

Typical Portraits are Okay Too

Though many of the examples in this article are of people being active and enjoying themselves outside, that doesn’t mean that a more typical portrait doesn’t have its place in springtime.

Looking at the example above, we see how the model’s wardrobe helps continue a springtime theme.

The length of the dress is indicative of warmer weather, while the fun and colorful print also harkens to the time of the season. Notice as well how her arm placement enhances the relaxed feel of the shot.

For another take on a typical portrait, you don’t have to use in-your-face colors to create something that has a vibrancy that’s similar to springtime.

Here, cool colors are used, yet their intensity is reminiscent of the intense colors of spring.

What’s more, the wardrobe selection, especially the cut-off shorts, gives this image a distinct springtime vibe.

The lesson here is that it’s not just the model’s pose or surroundings that can be used to create a springtime portrait – the wardrobe selection can go a long way in doing so too.

Make Beauty Out of the Mundane

Though we often tell people to look at the camera and smile, the result is usually that at least one person in the shot (and often many more) look as though they’re forcing a smile.

What’s more, a posed portrait doesn’t always give you the best opportunity to create beauty out of an everyday scene.

For example, the family portrait above goes a long way in showing the mood and emotion of the moment, as well as the relationship between each person in the shot.

The casual, laid-back nature of the image adds a feeling of genuineness that wouldn’t be as possible had the shot been formally posed.

Just imagine this scene if everyone was seated around the table, looking directly down the barrel of the lens. It wouldn’t be nearly as dynamic as the photo above, agreed?

Use Weather to Your Advantage

Depending on where you live, springtime may very well be marked by a ton of rain and lots of gray, overcast days.

But instead of writing those days off as not being good for portraiture, head out with your camera and make a concerted effort to use those kinds of conditions to your advantage.

For starters, gray, overcast days are wonderful for portraits because the clouds act like a giant softbox. With such even lighting, there’s no harsh shadowing to interfere with your portrait.

Beyond that, as seen in the image above, if it’s raining, use wet surfaces to add interest to your portraits, like the reflection of the kids playing in the rain.

Again, we see the value of taking a normal, everyday scene and elevating it with framing, color, and action.

Always Be At the Ready

The last tip I want to share is an old tried-and-true photography tip:

Always have your camera at the ready.

Spring is an unpredictable season that can offer up sunshine one minute and a gorgeous thunderstorm the next.

And because of that, you have to always be at the ready to take a shot because portrait subjects are just as unpredictable as the weather.

Where the photo above might have been intended to be a sweet portrait of a little girl enjoying her ice cream cone in the warmth of a spring day, what turned out to be the best shot of the sequence was the little girl sharing her treat with her dog.

Had the photographer not been ready to shoot, they would have missed the sweetest moment of the day.

That’s the real lesson when creating springtime portraits. No matter how much you prepare, plan your shot, concentrate on framing and perspective, using color and textures, and so forth, when things go sideways a bit, being ready to capitalize on unexpected moments is what will likely help you create the best springtime portraits.

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12 Places You Must Travel To Around India If You Love Photography

The land of many paradoxes, India holds numerous different spots. Some are barren and fruitless and some spots are favoured with lavish greenery and shocking woodland. Unquestionably, our country is personified with its individuality of landscape, and is a photographer’s paradise. From its natural beauty to the rich culture and diverse emotions across the nation, there is a lot your lens can capture if it is at the right place at the right time.

So here’s a list of places you must travel if you love photography! Flinging open doors to a new world to explore behind the camera.

1. Himachal Pradesh

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Considered among the most well-known visitor destinations on the planet, Himachal Pradesh is a standout among the lovely Himalayan states, with widespread magnificence. The panoramic view of Himachal Pradesh is stunning, particularly the part that resembles Switzerland’s geology. Khajjar, located 2000 meters above ocean level, at the foot of Dhauladhar is a photographer’s dream. The crystal clear waterway of Chandertal Lake, the “Sar Pass”, and the Rohtang Pass are viewed as other spots for landscape photography in India.

2. Rajasthan

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An undeniable photography haven, steeped in royal history, Rajasthan showcases colourful locals, grand palaces, havelis, festivals and a landscape as barren and harsh as it is beautiful.

Jaisalmer’s canvas of sand is dotted with camels, and is a favourite with photographers. The floating Lake Palace of Udaipur, forts in Jodhpur and Jaipur with sentries standing guard in traditional attire, and the Pushkar fair also offer rich pickings for your camera. The hazy morning and twilight lends itself to surreal images, but then this holds true for most of Rajasthan. Unquestionably, throughout the year, the state possesses its hypnotising landscape photography temperament.

3. Rann of Kutch

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If you are looking for lots of colour, generous doses of history, exquisite carvings, intricate art, flaming flamingos, flying cranes and different migratory birds, then Kutch is the ideal place for you. The pristine beauty of nature comes alive in the warmth of the people, the delicious food of the land, colourful handicrafts and the beautiful Kachchhi melodies. The Rann of Kutch looks divine on a full moon night, the infinite white land stretched out meeting the sky.

4. Andaman & Nicobar

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If white sandy beaches and pristine blue waters have excited you, be prepared to be awe-struck as you witness what the waters of Andaman hold for you! The rich reefs will surprise you with their varied offerings.

Colourful fish, sunken ships, prismatic sea life and some steeply undulating hills of raven volcanic lava make for an unusual diving experience. Think of this experience as that of getting a view of heaven underwater while experiencing one of the most beautiful places in India. These islands offer plenty of photography opportunities.

5. Kerala Backwaters

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The backwaters are a beautiful chain of lakes and lagoons along the Arabian sea coast and definitely shouldn’t be missed. Ferries here will take you anywhere and you can even hire a houseboat to stay in. In the Kuttanad region of Alappuzha, you’ll also be treated to boat races, where you will find snake boats that can hold up to a hundred oarsmen. Thousands of fans line the riverbanks and cheer on their favourite teams which make for a great atmosphere. There are dozens of villages and communities throughout this area which you can visit and get a real sense of everyday life and culture in this interesting place.

With backwaters, forts, beaches, palm trees, fishermen, hamlets and churches, Kerala is one of the most photogenic places God ever made. You should be there with your camera dangling from your neck and vouchers of tour packages clutched firmly in your hands.

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6. Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya

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What seems to appear straight out of a fantasy movie, the Living Root Bridges have to be seen to be believed! Some of these roots are more than a hundred feet long and are strong enough to carry the weight of fifty people at one time. Located in Meghalaya, they are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and you won’t stop clicking. Do carry an extra memory card and some battery backup.

7. Ladakh

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Otherworldly’ is probably the most appropriate term to define the highest inhabited region of India. The scale of the multi-hued mountains is only really experienced when you whip out your regular wide-angle lens, only to find that what stands before you cannot be captured in its giddy entirety in one frame. The landscape changes from steep lunar rocks to white sands in the Nubra Valley and to placid blue water in the Pangong Lake. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries hang on steep rock-faces, so make sure you carry a sturdy tripod.

Ladakh touches the clouds. It has a sensational landscape, the air has a nip to it, the windows are misty all the time, the birds sing across the Pangong Lake and the silence of the monks at Buddhist monasteries inspires. Let’s see if your lens can capture all that!

8. Spiti Valley

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Ladakh’s lesser-known neighbour, the cold mountain desert of Spiti is for travellers who dare to drift from tourist trails. Spiti’s postcard villages remain remotely tucked away in the lap of the mighty, barren Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh. It is here that you can hike along snow leopard and Himalayan wolf habitats, visit monasteries dating back over a 1000 years, sample a culture and cuisine different from the rest of India, and meet the kindest of people who live the harshest of lives. This is the world within a world, as Rudyard Kipling once described it.

It’s a great place for photographers to practise and hone their skills while exploring the beauty of villages and pristine sights of this environment.

9. Bandhavgarh National Park

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Located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, the Bandhavgarh National Park has for its inhabitants tigers, sambar, nilgai, chousingha, and chinkara. Wide open meadows, steep terrain, and lush forests make the Bandhavgarh National Park an exciting place to photograph wild animals. The park is also reputed to be one of the best for tiger spotting in India, providing ample opportunities for wildlife photography enthusiasts.

10. Tadoba National park

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With about 65 tigers, you have a fair chance of getting to capture some wildly beautiful expressions in the Tadoba National Park. Located in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra the Tadoba National park offers elephant rides and gypsy safaris to take you closer to the stripes in the wild. Focus, and be rewarded with some roaring images!

11. Varanasi

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Certain places offer photographers a chance to click something unique, such as monuments, historically popular places of interest, festivals, culture or landscapes. Some places, however, are able to offer everything in a nutshell. One such place is Varanasi. This region is best known for its religious reverence along with its bright culture, vivid hues, elaborate traditional, cheery locals, and ghats.

Defined by colours, unity in diversity, death and birth, indulgence and spirituality, this place is unique for photography. A trip to Varanasi can easily bring out the photographer in a person. In fact, even people who believe that they don’t need a camera will take one and click images of sadhus, priests, and ladies dipping into the holy water of the Ganges. Such is the mesmerising capacity of this place! Varanasi with its spiritual and vintage charm gives you some unique scenes. Uttar Pradesh’s biggest draw gets our votes for its deluge of 80 river ghats along the River Ganga.

12. Kashmir

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Set like a jewelled crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a multi-faceted diamond, changing its hues with the seasons – always extravagantly beautiful. Cradled in the lap of majestic mountains of the Himalayas, this is a land where myriad holiday ideas are realised. In winter, when snow carpets the mountains, there is skiing, tobogganing, sledge-riding, etc. along the gentle slopes. In spring and summer, the honey-dewed orchards, rippling lakes, and blue skies beckon every soul to sample the many delights the mountains and valleys have to offer.

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Three Ways Cinematography Can Improve Your Photography

For years, I enjoyed cinematography and photography as almost non-overlapping magisteria. I was fully aware that they played by many of the same rules, but I didn’t entertain the idea of extracting elements of cinematography and inserting them into my images until much later.

Perhaps this is primarily pertinent to editorial work and portraiture, but its applications are not limited to those. For simplicity’s sake, I will concentrate on the cinematography of one film in particular to display how effective the constituent parts of high-end cinematography can be; that film is “Drive.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, I implore you to give it a go even if the content isn’t really for you. It is widely accepted as a visual masterpiece as well as having an incredible and fitting soundtrack. For a detailed breakdown of the film, I recommend watching Cinematography Database’s video, created by Matt Workman.

Color Grading

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This is the least alien concept to photography but also the one I find has the most impact. Complementary colors are often employed in shoots both in wardrobe or location and in post-production, but a color palette present throughout a shoot — or even if only in post — can tie together images otherwise disparate. In the video above, Matt displays the two colors that are prominent throughout the film.

This serves a number of purposes. Firstly, the green and the orange are close to complementary colors and are a rather common choice in editorial photography as much as cinema. Secondly, as discussed, every frame of “Drive” has an identity, a sense of “Drive-ness.” This congruence throughout is the best way to tie all the images of a shoot together even if they are lit differently, have different subjects or locations, and so on. This isn’t just useful for fashion editorials and look-books, it’s fantastically effective in other areas, with wedding photography being just one. A popular processing method in wedding photography is crushing the blacks (something seen in almost all cinema) and soft cream tones. The third benefit of having consistent toning throughout a shoot is perhaps a little more niche: storytelling.

Storytelling

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This is more relevant to cinematography than photography without a doubt, but it does have worth in series of images. In Matt’s video, he identifies the color blue as denoting the artificial and the generally negative, whereas the color orange tends to highlight hope, happiness, and the good. Whether you agree with this hypothesis or not, assigning colors and different lighting to present a theme is useful in many areas of photography.

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Composition

This is perhaps one of the more surprising inclusions, but I feel as if photography and cinematography approach the same rules of composition rather differently. A lot of films abide by rules of thirds and leading lines, etc. in the same way us photographers do, but sometimes, it appears that us photographers use these rules “because that’s how you do it” rather than cinema’s approach, which is both aesthetically satisfying but also to further a theme or plot. The image below is a perfect example:

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Firstly, the composition is abiding by the rule of thirds, and it’s a very well-composed scene. However, it’s interestingly set out and deeper than the mere mechanical structure of a frame according to the “rules.” Ryan Gosling is noticeably blurred and dark, also in the green color scheme. He is isolated from the rest of the warm, orange scene, and it adds so much more to it over a floating bokeh head. When composing a photograph, ask yourself whether you can achieve the desired effect using a more interesting method.

Summary

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Honestly, the list does not stop there, but a lot of overlap halted my tangent. I love cinematic photography, and I’m not alone in my appreciation of its allure. Some of the most memorable images I’ve seen have been ones in which you get a sense there is a story behind it. I have mentioned the Photographer Lee Jeffries on more than one occasion and his (now rather famous) portraits of the homeless have that magical quality of leaving the viewer wanting to know more about the subject or moment. Another common aspect of memorable photography is unique twists on traditional composition, and although that’s perhaps the most difficult concept to employ, there can be no harm done from experimenting with different versions of classic composition. Finally, color grading is just about the most important part of my retouching in any type of photography. Sometimes, the difference between a good image and a great image is just a couple of subtle curve layers. I implore you to check out the work of Julia Kuzmenko McKim to get a sense of its power.

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Why the history of photography starts north of the border

Elizabeth Rigby, the writer and art historian, lived in Edinburgh in the 1840s where she was photographed by the calotypists David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. Later, as Lady Eastlake – having married the Keeper of the National Gallery in London – she wrote an important essay in 1857 on the art of photography, noting how it ‘had made but a slow way in England; and the first knowl edge to many even of her existence came back to us from across the Border. It was in Edinburgh where the first earnest, professional practice of the art began.’

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J.L.M. Daguerre, the entrepreneur and painter who had made four dioramas of Scottish scenes in the 1820s, announced the discovery of his photographic process in Paris in 1839; Edinburgh was second only to the French capital in importance in the early history of photography. In their magisterial survey of the development of the medium in Scotland in the mid 19th century, Sara Stevenson and A.D. Morrison-Low convincingly argue that the early success of a process that combined the sciences of optics and chemistry with artistic insight was the legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment. It is significant that Henry Fox-Talbot, inventor of the calotype – the negative-positive process on paper – communicated his discoveries to the Edinburgh physicist Sir David Brewster, who then encouraged its development. Perhaps it is equally significant that the industrialist James Nasmyth should have taken up the calotype.

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Photography in Edinburgh in the early days now seems to be dominated by the productive partnership between the painter Hill and the chemist Adamson, but there were other early exponents of the calotype. John Muir Wood worked in the capital and in other Scottish cities, and other numerous, often itinerant practitioners made small framed portraits using the single (reversed) image daguerreotype process. Some 1,500 photographers who were Scots or worked in Scotland in the first 30 years of photography have been identified and many of them brought to life in this monumental publication following decades of research. The authors note that their book was written in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum: ‘Nationalist histories are often found to be protesting too much. Do we need a history of Scottish photography? Do we need one now?’ The answer must be a resounding ‘yes’. ‘Hill and Adamson invented social documentary photography. Instantaneous photography was demonstrated by Allan Maconochie, John Stewart and George Washington Wilson; David Brewster led the way to three-dimensional photography. An aesthetic for photography, which helped to inform and lead the older arts, was explored by individuals such as James Ross, Thomas Annan, Thomas Keith and Lady Hawarden.’ Furthermore, James Clerk Maxwell was investigating the possibilities of colour photography as early as 1859, while Mungo Ponton’s chemical discoveries in 1839 were ‘the basis not just of the carbon process, but of the later process printing techniques and the manufacture of circuit boards’.

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Edinburgh was not the only place in Scotland where photography flourished in the pioneering decades. St Andrews is recorded in early calotypes. In Glasgow there was Thomas Annan, best known for his records of the slums off the High Street in the 1860s. And in Aberdeen there was the hugely prolific commercial topographical photographer G.W. Wilson, in whose obituary it was observed that ‘Sir Walter Scott discovered Scotland with his pen, and George Washington Wilson rediscovered it with his camera’ – a camera he also took to England and elsewhere. Just as Scots made and ran the British Empire, so Scottish photographers travelled abroad, to Canada, India and Australia and, recording antiquities, to Egypt, Palestine, and China. The most famous of these Scottish itinerants is the Paisley-born Alexander Gardner, who moved to New York in 1856, and who worked for Mathew Brady and, later, was attached to the Army of the Potomac and responsible for some of the most haunting images of the American Civil War.

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Stevenson and Morrison-Low have been investigating, cataloguing, and writing about the history of Scottish photography for over three decades – publishing pioneering studies of both the science of photography and the important achievement of Hill and Adamson. As Graham Smith, Emeritus Professor of the History of Photography at St Andrews, notes in his foreword to this splendid book, ‘Had they lived elsewhere, they would have been designated living national treasures long before now.’ But I fear they have yet more to do. It is one of the frustrations of the book, lavishly illustrated though it is, that many of the early images mentioned or described in the text are not reproduced. Furthermore, it displays the bias of many books of photographic history in illustrating more images of people than ones of buildings and topography. Often, historians of photography are more interested in the techniques, in the cameras and the careers of the early photographers than in what their images actually show. I am, of course, reflecting my own bias as an architectural historian, but the fact is that Edinburgh is the best-recorded city in early photographs other than Paris and there is a wealth of enthralling early topographical calotypes in collections in both Edinburgh and Glasgow showing buildings which have now disappeared – like the Medieval Trinity College Church demolished to make way for Waverley Station, and The Mound before the National Gallery appeared.

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One of the most covetable works of photographic history is Paris Et Le Daguerréotype , published by Paris-Museés in 1989. This reproduces the precise silvery plates made of streets and buildings in the Paris of Louis-Philippe by Daguerre’s process – some as early as 1839 and many showing Notre-Dame in great detail before Viollet-le-Duc got his hands on it. So please can National Museums Scotland publish a similarly lavish volume, entitled, say, Edinburgh and the Calotype , written by Stevenson and Morrison-Low, with the images of Hill and Adamson and others reproduced to a similarly high standard?

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One of the world’s oldest photography studios is closing down

The closure of the Bourne & Shepherd studio in Kolkata brings to an end the history of the oldest photographic business in India and perhaps in the world. The firm of Shepherd and Robertson was established in Agra in 1862 and the following year, in Simla, the hill-station which would soon become the British summer capital, it became Bourne & Shepherd when Charles Shepherd was joined by Samuel Bourne, newly arrived from England.

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Samuel Bourne (1834–1912) was, for a short time, the leading commercial photographer in India and a figure of considerable importance in the history of photography. Originally a banker, he took up landscape photography in 1854 and nine years later answered, as he put it, ‘the call of the East.’ Possessed of an almost mystical sense of landscape as a manifestation of the divine, he was soon exploring beyond Simla ‘to see what elements of beauty and grandeur lay concealed in some of the higher and little known regions of the Himalayas.’ Using Frederick Scott Archer’s wet collodion process, Bourne produced large albumen prints from glass plates which won awards in international exhibitions. This was no mean achievement: a later expedition to the Kashmir lasted nine months and required over 50 coolies to carry his supplies and equipment.

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Bourne also photographed the antiquities of India such as the Moghul buildings at Agra and Fatehpur-Sikri. He also recorded sites associated with the ‘Mutiny’ of 1857–58 in Lucknow and Cawnpore. As for the capital of British India, Calcutta, where Bourne & Shepherd soon established a studio, he found it – reflecting the conventional taste of his time – ‘a place totally devoid of architectural beauty’ although he did make photographs of some of the classical buildings which made an earlier generation compare the city with St Petersburg. (The colonial buildings of Calcutta were, in fact, recorded both early and comprehensively, what with Frederick Fiebig making hand-coloured calotypes of the city by 1851).

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Bourne left India for home in 1870, leaving behind him over 2,000 glass negatives. For landscape photography he was then replaced by Colin Murray. Opening studios in Bombay and other cities, Bourne & Shepherd became one of the leading commercial photographers in India specialising in portraits as well as topographical views. The firm took many of the evocative portraits of the native Indian Princes who travelled to Delhi in 1877 for the Durbar celebrating Queen Victoria’s elevation as Empress of India. In 1911 the firm became the official photographers for the last of the spectacular Delhi Durbars – the one at which George V announced that the seat of government would move from Calcutta to the ancient capital.

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The Simla studio closed in 1910. The Calcutta studio would continue for another century, under several ownerships. It is unlikely that it would have long survived the advent of digital photography, but the real disaster was a fire in 1991 which destroyed most of the archive. Fortunately, however, prints produced by Samuel Bourne and by Bourne & Shepherd are preserved in museum archives throughout the world – not least in the Alkazi Collection of Photography, based in New Delhi, which has done so much to assemble and publish the early photographic records of India, visual documents which are so valuable and enthralling both historically and artistically.