Exhibition: ‘The Lives of Great Photographers’ at The National Media Museum, Bradford

Exhibition dates: 15th April – 4th September 2011


Many thankx to The National Media Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.




Henry Herschel Hay Cameron (British born India, 1852-1911)
Mrs Julia Margaret Cameron



Julia Margaret Cameron (British born India, 1815-1879)
Carlyle like a rough block of Michael Angelo’s sculpture
Courtesy The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum/SSPL



Lady Clementina Hawarden (British, 1822-1865)
Self Portrait
c. 1864



John Moffat (Scottish, 1819-1894)
William Henry Fox Talbot with camera and lens



Photographers have created some of the most famous and memorable images ever produced, combining science and art since 1839. The Lives of Great Photographers, a free to enter exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford, draws on the Museum’s renowned collection to focus on the pioneers behind the camera, exploring the extraordinary stories surrounding some of photography’s most important innovators and artists.

Featuring Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Robert Capa, William Henry Fox Talbot, Weegee, Tony Ray-Jones, Fay Godwin and Eadweard Muybridge, the exhibition will display iconic images and artefacts from these and other great names, selected exclusively from the National Collection of Photography.

Exhibition curator Brian Liddy said: “Photography has been with us for more than 170 years, and in that time countless famous photographs have been taken by many famous photographers. Often we may think we know these men and women because we know their work so well, but over time so many photographers’ personal stories have become overshadowed by their most famous pictures. This major exhibition aims to redress the balance.”

The show begins with an investigation into the rivalry between two of the medium’s earliest pioneers. Without Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot, photography as it known today would not exist. Daguerre, a former theatrical designer, presented the photographic process to France and the world in 1839. Working in parallel and in competition, Talbot, who became an MP for Chippenham, went on to create the first negative from which multiple copy photographs could be produced.

As technology evolved, the breadth and range of photography increased, and the methods by which it could provide a source of income, or artistic expression, became more diverse. Julia Margaret Cameron, although primarily considered an artist, copyrighted her work and attempted to make a living by selling copies. Her personal connections gave her the opportunity to produce some of the first celebrity photographs in existence. Olive Edis employed photography as a serving war artist during the First World War and Edward Steichen’s career was remarkable for its variety as he moved effortlessly from art, to fashion, to advertising.

Photography also proved an ideal medium when it came to documenting world events. Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange were both driven by their social consciences to record the Great Depression in America. Photojournalism, the cousin of documentary photography, is represented in the exhibition by names such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, founding members of the world’s first photographic agency, Magnum. Both served in the Second World War and produced images that helped define an era.

One of the most notorious life stories is that of the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge. His pioneering work in chronophotography, whereby movement is captured by a sequence of photographic exposures, famously demonstrated that all four legs of a horse left the ground as it galloped. Until then the motion of a horse’s hooves were too quick for the human eye to determine. Perhaps less well known is the fact that Muybridge murdered his wife’s lover in cold blood but was later acquitted with a verdict of ‘justifiable homicide’.

The exhibition also includes Roger Fenton, Lady Clementina Hawarden, Alfred Stieglitz, André Kertész, and Larry Burrows. Each photographer is represented by their photographic portrait and a selection of their images. None is living, as only those whose lives and work can be evaluated in their entirety have been selected.

Brian Liddy added: “This exhibition shows just how rich the museum’s collections are. The work of some of the best-known photographers in history will be shown alongside the kinds of cameras they would have had to carry and use in the course of their work. We’ve also taken the opportunity to show rarely seen material, such as pages from the notebooks of Tony Ray-Jones detailing what was going through his mind when he was thinking about how to get the pictures he wanted.”

“By recounting the lives of these great photographers, we hope to provide an insight into what led them to produce some of the greatest photographs ever taken.”

Press release from The National Media Museum



Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830-1904)
Man (Muybridge) throwing discus walking up steps walking
Plate 519 Animal Locomotion


Unknown photographer. 'Lewis Hine photographing children in a slum' c. 1910


Unknown photographer
Lewis Hine photographing children in a slum
c. 1910
Courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL



Henri Cartier-Bresson (French, 1908-2004)
Dessau, Germany
© Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum, HCB Fondation, courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL



Alvin Langdon Coburn (American, 1882-1966)
Alfred Stieglitz


Unknown photographer. 'Eadweard Muybridge' date unknown


Unknown photographer
Eadweard Muybridge
Date unknown
Courtesy of The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum



Alvin Langdon Coburn (American, 1882-1966)
George Davison



Lewis Hine (American, 1874-1940)
Albanian woman Ellis Island



Edith Tudor Hart (Austrian-British, 1908-1973)
Gee Street, Finsbury
© Wolfgang Suschitzky, courtesy of the National Media Museum/SSPL


Unknown photographer. 'Portrait of Bill Brandt' c. 1979


Unknown photographer
Portrait of Bill Brandt
c. 1979



National Media Museum
West Yorkshire,

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Sunday 10.00 – 17.00

National Media Museum website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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