WALKER, SAMUEL LEON (1802–1874)
Samuel L Walker was one of the earliest daguerreotype photographers in the United States and was widely regarded as one of the best photographers during the 1840s and 1850s. He lived and worked in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Walker was born in 1802 at New Salem, Massa- chusetts, and enjoyed careers as a daguerreotypist and photographer, writer and spiritualist. There is some evidence to suggest Walker was an assistant to Samuel F. B. Morse in New York; he then had a studio in Albany before moving to Poughkeepsie by 1847. He seems to have stopped photographing between 1854 and the early 1860s when wet collodion photography began to supersede the daguerreotype and poor health limited his activities. By May 1864 Walker had returned to photography and was practicing the collodion process in his Photographic Institute.
The only known collection of Walker’s work is held by George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and the twenty daguerreotypes there consist of portraits including studies of his own children which Sobieszek claims are ‘some of the most exciting images created by the daguerrean artist.’ His daguerreotypes of his daughters are reminiscent of the work of Lewis Carroll in their directness and latent sexuality.
He died on 25 April 1874 aged 72 years when he was described as a man of great artistic taste with a love for his profession.
WALKER, WILLIAM HALL (1846–1917)
William H. Walker began making a wooden pocket amateur camera in Rochester from 1880 and by 1883 he was successfully manufacturing dry plates. He gave
up camera making, allowing his former partners to form the Rochester Optical Company which continued with the camera making side of the business.
George Eastman recognising Walker’s skills as a chemist and experience with plate manufacturing of- fered him a job which he accepted from the beginning of 1884. He began work on developing what became the Eastman-Walker roll film holder which allowed a roll of film to be used with any plate camera. The roll holder was patented in Britain on 25 November 1884 and in the United States on 5 May 1885. Through its use of standardized parts it could be mass-produced and was made in Frank Brownell’s works, being placed on the market in 1885. It was produced in eleven different sizes. The roll holder proved popular with the photographic press and with amateur photographers so that by 1888 35 percent of negatives at the London Camera Club’s summer outings were made using it. Rival companies introduced their designs.
Walker, with Eastman, also designed a paper and film coating machine and this, with the roll-holder and the development of a film, was intended to give Eastman’s company a complete system of film photography.
In 1884 Walker became Secretary to the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company and in 1885 he was sent to London to supervise the company’s European activi- ties, leading to the establishment of the Eastman Photo- graphic Materials Company Ltd which was incorporated in November 1889.
Walker’s relationship with Eastman, which had al- ways been testy, deteriorated and Eastman himself was forced to find a factory site rather than rely on Walker. The Harrow site was purchased, the first for the company outside of Rochester. Walker was not a businessman and Eastman found Walker’s negative attitude and repeated threats to retire tiresome. He finally accepted such a threat and George Dickman was appointed to take over from Walker from January 1893. Eastman soon forced Walker from the company completely.
Walker, a wealthy man from his Kodak stock, died in November 1917.
WALL, ALFRED HENRY (d. 1906 )
According to his obituary, Alfred Henry Wall was born in London, date unknown, and had a childhood sufficiently unhappy that he ran away from home and went to work for a time for one of the earliest da- guerreotype studios in the city before joining a theatre company—an activity he would return to for a period in the 1860s.
He opened his own studio in Cheapside c.1850, and another in the Strand (date unknown), but by 1851 was working as a photographic assistant at the Great Exhibition.
Photographic News reported in 1861 that he was working as an itinerant portrait painter under the name of R. A. Seymour, and coincidentally in that year he published A Manual of Artistic Colouring as Applied to Photographs. By 1862 he had returned to commercial photography and opened a studio in London’s West- bourne Grove.
In 1864 and 1865 he published two annual volumes entitled The Art Student which discussed photography as an art form, a subject aired several times since 1859. From 1868 until 1870 he edited The Illustrated Photog- rapher, which described itself as ‘a weekly journal of science and art,’ and his contributions to several con- temporary journals did much to expand understanding of the photographic processes.
Wall’s last photographic book Artistic Landscape Photography was published in 1896.
WALL, EDWARD JOHN (1860–1928)
Edward John Wall was one of the leading writers on the theory and practice of photography in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. His 1889 Dictionary of Photography became a standard reference work and ran to many editions worldwide. Although not published until 1925, his History of Three-Colour Photography was the first reflective look at that subject, drawing on material he had first published in the British Journal of Photography in the early 1900s.
In the closing years of the 19th century he contributed a manual on carbon printing to Amateur Photographer magazine’s One Shilling Library series of books, but one of his most significant contributions to the practice of photography was his published 1907 suggestion for the technique which became known as bromoil print- ing. Wall himself did not fully articulate the mechanics of the process, but his initial suggestions as to how it might work were realised in a practical sense by C Welbourne Piper, who published a working process later that same year.
Trained as a chemist, Wall initially worked for the plate manufacturers B. J. Edwards & Co. in London, before embarking on a career which embraced camera manufacture in the United States with the Blair Cam- era Company, journalism, photography, and motion pictures.
WALTER, CHARLES (CARL) (c. 1831–1907) Botanist, photographer, journalist
Born in Germany, he emigrated from Mecklenberg, Tokheim, to Victoria, Australia, in c.1856 where he worked as a botanical collector for the Victorian Government Botanist, Baron von Mueller. In 1858, he worled as a photographer and botanical collector, accompanied R.L.J. Ellery’s geodetic survey party into eastern Gippsland.
In 1865, he advertised himself as a “Country Photo- graphic Artist” of 45, Bell Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, and began supplying photographs and reports of his travels in the bush to The Illustrated Australian News. Much of his early work was concerned with recording portraits of aborigines and he documented the mission stations of Ramahyuck (Lake Wellington), Coranderrk (Yarra Flats) and Lake Tyers. In 1867, he sent portraits of Natives of Victoria to the Anthropological Society of London.
Walter was, perhaps, Australia’s first photojournalist, for as early as 1865 he sent a report of the “Salmon Tanks in Badger Creek” to the Illustrated Australian News. In the following year, he describes a trip overland to “Falls on the Niagara Creek, Mount Torbreck” with his “ap- paratus and tent upon his back—the whole weighing about fifty pounds.”
Walter used a stereoscopic camera for most of his work but also produced some half-plate and whole- plate negatives. He registered photographs with the Victorian Copyright Office in 1870 and in 1871 he advertised “A very large stock of Stereoscopic Views of Aboriginal Life, Mining, Scenery and other Australian Subjects.” The earliest extant photograph by Walter is dated 1862; his work continued to be published until the early 1870s.
WAR PHOTOGRAPHY Introduction
The medium of photography was generally accepted as a reflection of reality in the nineteenth-century. In truth, many photographic war scenes were manipulatively staged. At times this was because the artist wanted to reflect what they had seen with their own eyes, but were unable to capture with the camera. The creation of pho- tographs was also incredibly arduous on the battlefield. Lighting had to be ideal, photographic equipment was cumbersome, and plates had to be processed quickly necessitating portable darkrooms. In addition, the slow development of the medium itself made it impossible to produce action photographs.
Even with the assumed veracity of photographic works, photographs were seldom printed in newspapers in the nineteenth-century. More likely they were seen when displayed in galleries, sold in books, or copied by engravers for newspapers. However, often engravers invented scenes of battle that had not been captured by photographers. The development of half-tone printing, which enabled the combining of text with photographs, fueled a rise of photos in papers during the Spanish- American War and Second Boer War at the end of the century.
Early War Photography
The earliest photographs of wartime events come from the end of the Mexican-American War (1836–1848).
These images are not of battle scenes, but rather posed scenes of soldiers. “General Wool and Staff, Calle Real, Saltillo, Mexico,” c. 1840, offers a good example of the kind of choreographed scene frequently produced. Wool’s regiment paused for several minutes to accommodate the exposure time needed for the daguerreotype; one can see that the figures on the left are slightly blurred from having moved. The difficul- ties of obtaining photographic materials, the lengthy preparation time necessary, and the long exposure period for the daguerreotype, made photography rare in this period. Only around fifty photographs survive, and we have no record of specific photographers of the Mexican-American War images.
The first identifiable photographer who took pictures in a wartime environment was John McCosh. McCosh served as a British surgeon during the Second Sikh War (1848–1849) in India and the Second Burma War (1852). Using the calotype, McCosh photographed fellow soldiers, artillery, and ruins. Karl Baptist von Szatmari also exhibited some photographs of a battle between the Russian Army and the Turks in the Paris Exhibition of 1855; an engraving after one of these scenes survives, as do some of the photographs themselves.
Wood and Gibson. Inspection of Troops at Cumberlanding, Pamunkey, Virginia. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The J. Paul Getty Museum.
Richard Nicklin had been hired by the British military to photograph government-sanctioned scenes of the Crimean War (1853–1856), but the photographer and his two assistants were caught in a hurricane and drowned in Balaclava Harbor in November of 1854. Photographs from other artists such as Gilbert Elliot, and two military officers, ensigns Brandon and Dawson, were also hired by the government to cover the war, but all of their works have since disappeared.
Roger Fenton produced over 350 images of the Crimean War during 1855. Thomas Agnew hired Fenton with aspirations of creating a profitable issue of photos similar to those that the military photographers had been hired to photograph but never produced. Roger Fenton wrote in letters of some of the horrors he witnessed during his time in the Crimean, but his photographs do not reflect the scenes he describes. Rather, Fenton mostly photographed heroic portraits of soldiers, posi- tive scenes of life in the camps, and images of the sur- rounding landscape. Fenton may have felt compelled by Agnew, as well as Queen Victoria with whom the photographer had developed a warm relationship, to photograph encouraging images of the war to try and offset the negative impressions given to the British people by newspaper reporter William Howard Russell. Fenton was also limited by photographic materials of the time which did not yet enable spontaneous action shots. He was also challenged by the collodion wet plate process technique which required speed and virtuosity as he only had short time to develop the plates in his makeshift traveling laboratory after taking a scene.
Fenton’s most recognized war image is one of the few in which he allowed a sense of sadness at the destruction of war to creep into his work. Arriving shortly after the brutal attack of soldiers of the British Light Brigade by the Russians on October 25, 1854, Fenton’s “Valley of the Shadow of Death” showed the infamous valley as a desolate landscape filled with cannon balls. The exhibition of the photograph in 1855, and the popular- ity of Lord Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade,” written in 1864, marked this event in the memory of the British people.
James Robertson, Felice Beato, Charles Langlois, and Karl Baptist von Szatmari all photographed the final stages of the Crimean War. Of these, the sixty or so photographs taken by Robertson have become the most well known. Robertson’s works showed more scenes of death, destruction, and violence, the kind of subject matter not in the work of Fenton. Although Thomas Agnew & Sons published both Fenton’s and Robertson’s Crimean photographs in 1856, Robertson does not seem restricted by Agnew to shoot only government- favored photos as Fenton had been, perhaps because of Robertson’s other sources of income. In the end, Agnew’s commercial adventure was not as successful as he had hoped. Fenton’s and Robertson’s photographs went on sale, both individually and as sets, as early as November 1855. However, the public had little interest in these images by the end of the war. By the end of
1856, Thomas Agnew & Sons sold all remaining prints and negatives from both photographers at auctions.
After photographing the end of the Crimean War, Felice Beato and James Robertson worked together in Calcutta and photographed the Indian Mutiny, of First War of Independence, of 1857. Beato’s most striking images from this period are scenes of the execution of over 2000 Indian rebels by the British, and those of Secundra Bagh in which he recorded the devastation in the months that followed. In his photographs from the 1850s, Beato is often credited as the first to photograph corpses after a battle. Beato probably choreographed many of these scenes to heighten the dramatic effect, perhaps even excavating and arranging corpses. Beato became the most prolific photographer of war scenes of the Asian world in the nineteenth century including the recording of the Opium War in China (1860) and the Japanese attacks in the Simonaki Straights in September of 1864. Also during this decade, several photographers were sent to the battlefields during the War of the Triple Alliance in South America (1864–1870), in hopes for commercial success. Bate & Co. published Esteban García’s work from this period in sets of ten titled La Guerra Ilustrada. However, it was the American Civil War (1861–1865) that was the first war to be extensively photographed.
1860s/American Civil War
It was the publishers’ awareness of the public’s desire for war scenes that caused the prolific photographic work produced during The American Civil War; at least five hindred photographers accompanied the soldiers of the North. Photographs were then made into engrav- ings to be published in the papers, or sold to E. and H. T. Anthony and Co., who at times issued more than a thousand pictures a day. The photographs themselves would not be viewed by the public until they were dis- played in galleries.
George S. Cook took images right after the fall of Fort Sumter, marking the beginning of the war between North and South. While Cook became one of the few photographers to shoot Confederate subjects, one of his most famous works is of a Federal troop leader, Major Robert Anderson who had been defeated at Fort Sumter. After the war, Cook collected over 10,000 photographs from the war; these are now in the collection of the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia.
However, Matthew B. Brady is the name most syn- onymous with Civil War photography. He determined that he could make a profit organizing photographers to shoot the war and closed most of his galleries which had been highly successful portrait studios for the rich and famous. He had even done several sittings with President Lincoln who credited Brady with helping him win the election with these fine portraits of the President. Brady claimed he was called to the war, “I felt I had to go. A spirit in my feet said ‘go,’ and I went.”
Although suffering from poor eyesight, Brady ini- tially went to the fields and was greeted with distaste from many of the soldiers who suspiciously saw his cam- era as some kind of weapon. Later, he organized other photographers to do most of the actual photographing. However, Brady managed to frequently place himself within photographs of military heroes. Throughout the course of the war, Brady hired over twenty photogra- phers to shoot the troops, battle scenes, and the bodies after the massacres. He organized a complex system of equipping each of the photographers with a portable dark room and stocked chemicals and glass plates at the major battlefields. His team of photographers produced over 7000 negatives during the war.
One of Brady’s best photographers was Alexander Gardner. Gardner followed the Army of the Potomac and captured most of their battles. His first war photo- graphs were exhibited in Brady’s studio in September of 1862 and captured the horrific results of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest battle of the war in which 26,000 soldiers were killed or wounded. The gallery received huge crowds desperate to see these first im- ages portraying with veracity the costs of war. These photographs were dramatically realistic in contrast to heroic scenes that had been done of dead soldiers by painters in this period. Gardner showed the actual decay of the corpses and the inhumanity of their deaths. Eight of these photographs were also published in Harper’s Weekly on October 18, 1862.
The New York Times praised the show, “Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible real- ity and earnestness of war” and Gardner was disturbed by Brady’s assumed ownership of these photographs. Each photograph was boldly marked with “Brady’s Al- bum Gallery” in contrast to Gardner’s name written in small barely noticeable print. Gardner reacted by taking the negatives of his photographs along with Timothy O’Sullivan and James F. Gibson, some of Brady’s best photographers, and opened his own studio. Once working for himself, some of Gardner’s most intriguing works were those from his series on the execution of the conspirators who plotted the murder of President Lincoln.
Gardner clearly credited the photographers who worked for him in the publication of their work. For ex- ample, Timothy O’Sullivan, while working for Gardner, produced arguably the most famous war photograph, the “Harvest of Death” taken of the battlefield of Get- tysburg. This scene shows a field covered with bodies, highlighting the numerous deaths from this battle. Yet O’Sullivan simultaneously shows the viewer one soldier’s face, his contorted hand in the center of the
photo, bringing a large inconceivable number down to the reality of many individuals. Other soldiers have their clothes partly removed as thieves have already been searching their bodies. The scene achieves the kind of accurate reportage which Gardner supported when he remarked that this photograph by O’Sullivan “conveys a useful moral: it shows the blank horror and reality of war, in opposition to the pageantry.”
Photography also filled a unique role for families who sent their loved ones to battle. Portraits of soldiers were often taken before leaving for the war and make- shift studios were set up in many battlefields enabling soldiers to send home images of themselves. The re- cently developed and inexpensive tintype photographs were particularly popular. It should be highlighted that although a few photographs of African-American troops and the treatment of slaves were taken, the pho- tographic record of this period for African-Americans is minimal in comparison to the copious photographs taken of the war.
Some of the many photographers not discussed in depth in this essay who photographed scenes from The Civil War include: George Barnard, Bergstresser Brothers, Sam Cooley, James Gardner, James Gibson, S.A. Holmes, David Knox, Theodore Lilienthal, Royan Linn, A.D. Lytle, William Pywell, James Reekie, George Rockwood, T.C. Roche, John Scholten, William Mor- ris Smith, Julian Vannerson, David Woodbury, and J. A. Young. Andrew J. Russell is the only photographer during the Civil War to have been paid by the govern- ment.
After the war, photographs of the battlefields were difficult to sell as the public preferred to forget their tragic losses. Alexander Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War published after the Civil War, which included O’Sullivan’s famous Harvest of Death, had little response. While many photographers struggled, perhaps none suffered more than Brady who had bankrupted himself from his investments to photo- graph the war and ended up destitute and mostly blind. Also after the end of the war, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper published images of Southern war camps and malnourished prisoners. Mary Warner Marien dis- cusses the role of the North’s blockade of the South as a cause for the extreme neglect of the prisoners of the Confederacy.
The 1870s and 1880s
During the 1870s and 1880s numerous regional wars took place throughout the globe. However, few photog- raphers recorded these events, as there was little interest in them for purposes of print illustrations. Rather, most newspapers hired artists to sketch dramatic battle scenes believing photography lacked the ability to capture the action. Louis Heller shot images of prisoners which were used, however, for the cover of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 12, 1873. Eadweard Muybridge pro- duced some dramatic images of the battle between the Modac Indians and the American Cavalry on the border of Oregon and California in 1872–1873. Muybridge frames individual proud Native Americans as they fight to keep their land; in truth, most of the tribe would be hung when this battle was lost. Bismark’s war against Schleswig-Holstein was photographed by a handful of artists showing mostly views of the destruction of the landscape and corpses. Only negligible photos survive from the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1888).
While James Burke photographed many struggles in Afghanistan, the best are of the Second Afghan War of 1879 in which the British were fighting in the area of Kabul. In one of the most successful battles in Brit- ish military history, their troops numbering only 5000 fought off an attack by over 100,000 Afghans. Although he did not shoot the actual battle, Burke’s photos of the confident British troops a day before the attack were published as engravings in London Graphic. Burke is known for his sweeping views of troop formations placed against the exotic Afghan backdrop.
Few noteworthy photographs survived from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870; however, photography played a crucial role in the siege of Paris. First, bal- loons marked “Daguerre” and “Niépce” were used to drop communications into the surrounded city. Later, photographically reduced text was hidden in small containers tied to the tails of homing pigeons enabling those under siege within the city to communicate with French officials outside. Once they realized the French’s secret weapon, the Prussians used falcons to attack the pigeons.
The Paris Commune ended with Bloody Week (May 21–May 28, 1871), a period in which 25,000 Parisians were killed by the French government. Various Parisians took some particularly intriguing photos of the Com- munards posed prior to and after removing the Vendôme Column, an action that symbolized the removal of Napo- leonic military barbarism. Bruno Braquehais published 109 photographs, which he personally photographed, in a bound album titled Paris During the Commune. Unfortunately, these photographs were later used to identify rebels who were then punished or murdered by the French government. Charles Soulier photographed the city in ruins after the end of the Commune. Eugène Appert fabricated photographs in which he hired actors to stage various scenes from the time of the Commune, and then he would paste in heads of the Communards and reshoot the pasted photo. This handful of contrived images, designed from the perspective of the govern- ment, was compiled into a book called Crimes of the Commune.
The Spanish-American War (April 25–August 12, 1898) is the first war in which photographs of war scenes were quickly disseminated to the public through publication in newspapers. Due to the images in papers owned by Hearst and Pulitzer, Americans saw the atrocities of the Spanish occupation, although often inaccurately reported, and support increased for the Cuban rebel forces. The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine, on February 15, 1898, in the Cuban harbor of Havana was blamed on the Spanish and fueled the decision by the United States to enter the war on April 25. “Remember the Maine” became a rallying cry as numerous photography firms marketed stereographs of the event; Keystone View Company in particular made a profit from the selling of such images.
Despite the American public interest in this conflict, few photographers were hired to document the battles. However, Jimmy Hare began a career in which he would become known as the paramount photographer of war. Working for Collin’s Magazine and later Collier’s and Leslie’s Weekly, Hare worked in the field during nu- merous twentieth-century wars including World War I. While few of his surviving photographs from this period are remarkable, later he would be credited with being the first modern war photojournalist for his courageous efforts in documenting times of war.
International public opinion on the Second Boer War (1899–1902) was also greatly swayed by photographs of the battles and conditions in South Africa. Much of Europe and the United States supported the seemingly simple people of the Boer republic initially in their battle against Britain. Once realizing the power of the medium, the Boers began taking numerous photos of every as- pect of the war. The Boers encouraged photos of their weaponry, trenches filled with dead British soldiers, and their prisoners including then war correspondent Winston Churchill.
Through manipulation of these and other photo- graphic images, the British used the media to try and persuade the national and international public to sup- port their troops. Horace Nicholls can be credited with shooting some of the most sentimental images during this period, which engendered sympathy for British troops. Nicholls described his desire to shoot and com- pose “photographs which would appeal to the artist sense of the most fastidious, knowing that they must as photographs have the enhanced value of being truthful.” Numerous other photographers were sent to shoot this war, Reinholt Thiele and H.C. Shelley for example, but many scenes were shot by British soldiers and volunteers who brought their own Kodaks to South Africa. The deplorable conditions of British concentration camps, in which 40,000 women and children died of disease and starvation, were undeniable due to the many photo- graphs taken within the camps of the victims.
While many battles from the larger wars were more frequently photographed, photographs also evidence the colonization by Europeans and Americans around the globe. In many countries, photos of famous cultural sights and exotic locales were taken once an area was conquered. Many of these images were used to lure westerners to become settlers in a certain area and to romanticize the prowess of western cultures at explora- tion.
Photography was also utilized as a military tool throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. Most military expeditions had a trained photographer as part of their troops. Some armies maintained an entire unit of photographers. Photographic technology was also used to reproduce maps, study military maneuvers and the terrain, and to train servicemen.
In the majority of battles, photographers were suc- cessful at performing their role as observers of both sides. Yet in some cases photographers were taken as prisoners when suspected of spying for the enemy. In addition, photographers were frequently warned against photographing any military details and could be imprisoned if such images were ever published. Some soldiers felt uncomfortable with the new technology, as discussed above during the American Civil War. Native American warriors, in fact, frequently avoided the camera for fear that the strange contraption would somehow capture their soul.
The time needed to set up the equipment, the slow de- velopment time, and the simple fact that a photographer had to shoot something before them rather than creat- ing it in their mind, made photography a challenging medium to work with in the nineteenth century. Yet, the camera’s seeming ability to capture reality also made the desire to take photographs of battlefields and sol- diers simply irresistible. By World War II, photographs would be the primary source of images for newspapers informing the public about the war.
WARD, CATHERINE WEED BARNES (1851–1913)
Born in Albury, New York January 10, 1851, Catherine Barnes traveled with her parents to Russia in 1872. Introduced to photography in 1886, she built her own studio in the attic of her home. She was appointed associate editor of American Amateur Photographer, wrote and lectured extensively on photography, and became known as an advocate for women in photography with her talk “Photography from a woman’s standpoint” (1890). Her appointment as editor was followed by a visit to England, where she was enrolled into the Photographic Society of Great Britain, and married the photographic journalist Henry Snowden Ward (1865–1911).
Together with her husband, Ward edited The Photogram (1894–1905), continued as The Photographic Monthly, and The Process Photogram (1895–1905), continued as The Process Engraver’s Monthly. They collaborated on a series of topographical volumes, with photographs taken by Mrs Ward, including Shakespeare (1896, 1897), Dickens (1903), Chaucer (1904), and Lorna Doane (1908).
Snowden Ward died suddenly in New York in 1911, while on a lecture tour to promote the Dickens centenary. Catherine returned to England, but her health deteriorated, and she died in Hadlow, Kent July 31 1913.