Upcoming Diary Dates
Next NPDS Meeting:
Tuesday 27th March – Special Presentation by Ruth Grindrod featuring her latest work from Senja, Norway and Doegal, Ireland
Sunday 25th March – Hunstanton meet in the car park next to the Lighthouse in Old Hunstanton by 06:00. (Sunrise and low-tide coincide around 06:50)
Visit the ‘Blog’ section or click on the link below to download the latest edition of In Focus in order to keep yourself up to date with all that is going on at Norwich & District Photographic Society
Countdown to 102nd Annual Exhibition at Norwich Cathedral
Who are we?
The Norwich & District Photographic Society meets every Tuesday evening between 7.15pm – 9.30pm (doors are normally open from 7.00pm) at Chapel Field Road Methodist Church Hall Norwich NR2 1SD.
Membership subscriptions for the year is just £40 and prospective members may attend up to three evenings free of charge as our guest (excluding ‘Special Presentations’).
Parking is available next door in the car park of Bignold School, at the end of Wessex Street, The cost of parking is £1 and is payable at the door before the start of the meeting.
TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH EVERYTHING GOING ON AT NDPS PLEASE VISIT OUR BLOG WHERE YOU WILL FIND THE LATEST INFORMATION.
Brief History of NDPS
The Norwich and District Photographic Society is one of the oldest such organisations in the country.
It had its beginnings during the middle years of the 19th century. A number of local people with an interest in the science of photography formed the Norwich Photographic Society in June 1854.
This society existed for only seven years but during that time it had an influence on the development of photography far greater than its provincial origins merited; there are reports about its meetings in the archives of the Royal Photographic Society.
The present society was formed in 1903. A group of photographers from other organisations such as the YMCA and the Teachers’ Field Club, together with a number of interested individuals, met under the guidance of Albert Edward Coe. Since then it has met regularly although during the two world wars activities were curtailed and the Annual Exhibitions were suspended.
Photography comes to Norwich
The Early Years
In the early years of the nineteenth century the fusionbetween science and art that had been sought for so long was realised. For many years it had been known that images of objects and scenery could be thrown, through the lenses of a camera obsura, onto a plane surface. Artists had used this method toassist in the production of paintings but it had not been possible to make the images permanent. Now, everything was to change.
By 1837 in France, after a decade of experimentation Daguerre introduced his new photographic process, which, despite the quality of the finished picture, suffered from the drawback of being a one-off, incapable of being reproduced. By 1837, Daguerre’s process had been widely publicised and, because the French government had decreed that it should not be patented in France, was taken up enthusiastically by many keen workers there.
Meanwhile in this country, William Henry Fox-Talbot, working on completely different principles was elaborating the Talbotype, soon to be renamed Calotype, process. Introduced in 1840, this gave a negative on sensitised paper from which numerous, though inferior, positive prints could be made.
Both Daguerre, in this country, and Fox-Talbot hedged their processes about with patents that precluded their unrestricted use. These limitations delayed the active involvement of the wider public for several years.
In England, Daguerre had secretively patented his processand turned to the commercial side of photography by licensing its use to studio operators. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to open Daguerreotype studios by licensees in this country, John Beard, a London coal merchant, acquired a license and opened a flourishing studio in London in 1841. So successful was this business that in a short time he opened a number of provincial studios in Southampton, Manchester and Liverpool.
On 2nd December 1843, an advertisement appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle that announced that John Beard was about to open another studio in Norwich that would produce life-like likenesses in a few seconds taken by the action oflight. Photography had arrived in Norwich…!
During the following decade, a number of other entrepreneurs opened studios in the city. J R Sawyer was advertising his ‘Photographic Gallery’ at 42 London Street in January 1856,calling himself the ‘Resident Artist’ established for three years’. Sawyer was a key figure in the photographic life of the city and, in due course, formed one of the tangible links between photography in the 1850s and the Norwich and District Photographic Society.
Norwich Photographic Society
Under extreme pressure, Fox-Talbot relaxed the terms of his patents for amateurs and it was possible to obtain rights to use the process. Amateur photography in Norwich commences with the involvement of Thomas Damant Eaton in the mid-1840s.. Eaton was a cultured man, involved in the silk industry in the city, a musician, with a literary bent and an interest in everything artistic. Eaton took a great deal of pleasure in his immediate surroundings and early photographs, 1844-45, were taken in the vicinity of his home in Chapelfield. He retired from business in 1846 and for many years thereafter gave much time to his photographic work, enjoying the friendship of fellow workers.
Sometime in the early 1850s, Eaton gathered around him acircle of men who had also shown interest in the rapid development of photographic processes. It is intriguing to speculate to how this disparate group came together in the first place. One possibility is that some, at least, were fellow members of a larger body, the Literary and Scientific Institution, which met from time to time at the Museum in St. Andrews.
It is also likely that such men would have become readers of Notes and Queries a periodical first published in 1849 that set out ‘to bring together the ideas and the wants of men engaged in the same lines of action or enquiry’.
One common contributor to Notes and Queries was Dr Hugh Welch Drummond. Drummond had been educated in Norwich School, became an articled pupil at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1824 and a pupil at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1828. After qualifying, he specialised in mental illness – a field in which he used early photography to record the physiognomy of some of his patients. Diamond had other interest, particularly in the collection of engravings and etchings. This interest led to his involvement in photography and in the late 1840s he met up with similarly minded men in a small group known as the Calotype Society. Amongst the other members was one of his patents, Frederick Scott Archer, who, in 1850, supplied Diamond with the necessary materials to process his own photographs using his newly discovered wet solution process.
Like Diamond, T D Eaton had been educated at Norwich School. Although he was nine years senior to Diamond, Eaton would have been aware of his activities. In any case, Diamond continued to have an arms-length connection with the city and is known to have returned on a number of occasions. It is probable that these visits would have provided an opportunity for the two men to meet and share their common pursuit.
Further, Diamond made major contributions to Notes and Chronicles at the time, that were so well received in Norwich that in 1853 the circle of photographers brought together by Eaton wrote to the magazine expressing their thanks and saying how much they had learnt from Diamond’s contributions.
The common interest of this group led to the formation of the Norwich Photographic Society in 1854. The new society was only the sixth of its kind to be formed in this country. Eaton himself was elected President, and other members specifically mentioned in reports were Dr James Howes, G R Pitt, J R Sawyer, Dr W H Ranking, Charles Morse, W Bransby Francis, Henry Harrod, J Stewart, F T Keith, T Lound and Henry Pulley.
Unfortunately, by the end of the 1850s the Norwich Society was in decline. There had been no further dramatic developments in photographic processing in the previous ten years or so, and whilst it was still possible to tinker with the existing processes, there did not appear to be much more to learn.
Sometime in 1861 the Norwich Photographic Society was dissolved. It was not alone. The photographic societies in Leeds, Liverpool Glasgow, Birmingham, Brighton and probably others, all of which were of the same vintage, suffered the same fate. Only London (later the Royal), Manchester and Edinburgh Photographic Societies have survived.
Norwich & District Photographic Society