Edward Catchpool daguerreotype

In 1839 Louis Daguerre announced the daguerreotype process, which along with Henry Fox Talbot’s calotype heralded the dawn of the photographic age. Although the daguerreotype produced one original only, it quickly became the photographic medium of preference. Calotype images were less clear and sharp, and because the process was patented worldwide royalties were payable every time it was used.

Because the technology was only really suitable for studio work, the vast majority of daguerreotypes are portraits such as this 1852 image of Edward Catchpool, who had published a short-lived Wellington newspaper, The New Zealand Colonist. The photographer was probably Lawson Insley.

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Alan Bekhuis

Posted: 04 Jul 2018

"Because the technology was only really suitable for studio work, the vast majority of daguerreotypes are portraits" - Yes the majority of extant period daguerreotypes are but no, not because the process was restricted to studio work. There are many fine landscape daguerreotypes from the daguerreian era and there are factors at play here, the commercial viability was for portraiture. That didn't stop itinerant daguerreotypists in the US from taking commissioned views of family houses or sitting up studios in temporary settings. The famous daguerreotypist Girault de Prangey travelled throughout the middle east in the early 1840's taking architectural and landscape views, amassing a collection of hundreds of plates.