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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Henry D. Taylor

Dates:  1814 - 1891 (or later, census)
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Henry D. Taylor
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Taylor was a chemist, druggist, and bookseller in Surrey when he was introduced to photography by Arthur Kerr. In 1853 Kerr stayed near Taylor and was fresh from taking calotype lessons from Samuel Buckle. Taylor bought a fine camera from the optical firm of Andrew Ross and produced his first successful calotype on August 1, 1853, using, of course, a Buckle brush to coat his papers. Starting with the 1855 Photographic Society exhibition in London, Taylor contributed dozens of calotypes through 1858 in both England and Scotland. At the 1856 Photographic Society of Norwich exhibition, Taylor’s photographs were found by the Norfolk News to “have as much harmony and breadth as it is possible to obtain from paper negatives.” The reviewer of the Edinburgh Evening Courant commented on Taylor’s studies of “ferns, water lilies, bind-weed and nettles, hedge with brambles, &c. The process is calotype, and yet these studies have all the sharpness of collodion, and, we venture to say, more of the half tints and gradations of light and shade than collodion is generally capable of.” By 1855 Taylor had merged his hobby and his profession, offering instructions, materials, and apparatus. Taylor manufactured iodized paper for use by amateurs, counting Rev. T. Milville Raven among his best customers. Taylor provided a rare insight into the early days of photography when he published his reminiscences near the end of the nineteenth century. Although he had always exhibited some collodion, Taylor remembered the calotype process with particular fondness as being clean to use and versatile in the field. He had a 12 x 15 inch camera made and took four sheets of paper out at a time. The calotype was slow enough in developing for local areas to be controllable. Taylor was especially appreciative of the fact that the calotype could be developed under reduced light rather than in total darkness: “I have frequently had quite a bevy of ladies looking on during the development of my day’s work.” 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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