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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Thomas Annan

Other: T. &. R. Annan & Sons 
Dates:  1829 - 1887
Born:  Scotland, Fife, Dairsie
Active:  Scotland
Scottish photographer who utilized many photographic processes throughout his career. He made portrait and architectural photographs with equal ability, but is primarily remembered for his shots of the alleys and tenement buildings of Glasgow. "The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow", a classic of documentary photography, has gone through multiple editions in albumen print, carbon print and photogravure portfolio, and book forms, but it is interesting to note that his British Journal of Photography (December 23, 1887) obituary did not mention the series. The obituary concentrated on his landscapes and reproductions of paintings which are now largely forgotten.
He was the father of J. Craig Annan, also a noted photographer.

At 16, Annan started an apprenticeship as a lithographic engraver in Cupar, Fife. Four years later he went to work for a printer in Glasgow. Recognising the potential of the new art of photography, in 1855 he formed a calotype partnership with George Berwick, a chemist. By 1857, he had his own studio in Sauchiehall Street. He exhibited portraits, photos of paintings and country houses at the 1858 Photographic Society of Scotland Exhibition. In 1859, he photographed the construction of the water supply from Loch Katrine. Today, he is best known for his 1868-1871 work on behalf of the Glasgow City Improvement Trust, documenting the Glasgow slums prior to urban renewal.
In 1869, when D.O. Hill moved out, he leased Rock House in Edinburgh and based himself there for at least two years. Annan's son, James Craig, later republished Hill & Adamson's calotypes as photogravures.
Annan's stereoviews are rare.
Biography taken, with permission, from: Peter Blair, 2018, Scotland in 3D, (P3DB Publishing) 
Stereographs project 
Business locations 
Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, UK 
[Thomas Annan] Hope St. Opened first studio 55; B. 29, D. 87. Early worker who did fine area views both city/rural. 
T.K. Treadwell & William C. Darrah (Compiled by), Wolfgang, Sell (Updated by), 11/28/2003, Photographers of the World (Non-USA), (National Stereoscopic Association)
Credit: National Stereoscopic Association with corrections and additions by Alan Griffiths and others.
NOTE: You are probably here because you have a stereograph to identify. Please email good quality copies of the front and back to so we can create reference collections for all.

Preparing biographies

Further research

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If you have a portrait of this photographer or know of the whereabouts of one we would be most grateful.
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Exhibitions on this website

Theme: Documentary
ThumbnailThomas Annan: The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow (1900) 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
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Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.31-32 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Thomas Annan.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.70 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 
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