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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Henry Herbert Hele

Dates:  1804 - ?
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Henry Herbert Hele
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

A surgeon in Ashburton, Devon, in November 1854 Hele credited Hugh Welch Diamond in Notes and Queries for “having given me the first impulse in the art.” He was active in calotypy at least by 1853, writing that “the season is fast advancing for the calotypist.” However, the idea of fine details intrigued him, and he confessed that he had become “a wax-paper man to the back-bone.” Photography must have taken over his life, for Hele admitted to “devoting my whole time to the work,” but he started having trouble with his negatives, which suffered from a granular surface mottling. One day, in the course of making wax casts of fruits (for unexplained reasons), he observed that the common wax he was working with had been adulterated. After that, Hele used beeswax that he personally melted from the comb for both his wax casting and his photography. By 1856, however, he had succumbed to the lure of collodion photography, writing to Photographic Notes of its desirability “on account of the greater sharpness of its proofs, together with its capabilities of admitting living figures in its foregrounds, life-giving desiderata to all pictures.” In spite of his continuing enthusiasm in the press, Hele appears never to have exhibited, and none of his photographs are known to have survived. 
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. 
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