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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Henry Stanley Crawford

Dates:  1823, 10 August - 1883, 6 June
Died:  India, Tellicherry
Active:  India

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for William Henry Stanley Crawford
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

A partner in a Bombay shipping firm, Crawford operated a daguerreotype studio there from 1854, and later a photographic business. In 1853 he was involved in a spirited debate with Antoine Claudet over who could claim priority for an improvement to the Daguerreotype process. By 1855 Crawford’s interest had begun to turn toward paper negatives and he showed a large group before the Photographic Society of Bombay, of which he was secretary. The prints he showed in the society’s 1856 exhibition were so admired that the negatives were examined, bringing pleasure to the council, which, according to the Journal of the Photographic Society of Bombay, had “no hesitation in saying they are, as a whole, the finest and best collection we ever saw,” also noting that Crawford had “long borne a high name as a Daguerreotypist, and . . . some of his best specimens were on view.” In 1859 Crawford detailed his approach to making waxed-paper negatives in hot climates, pointing out “that the various processes recommended by a variety of practitioners in England, present each and all some serious obstacle to the Indian amateur.” After a brief period of teaching photography classes at the Elphinstone Institute in Bombay, Crawford appears to have abandoned photography, managing a steam navigation company and later becoming a coffee planter. 
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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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

Commercial, India
Ran a daguerreotype and later a photographic studio in Marine Street and other locations in Bombay from 1854. Published a Treatise on Photography (Bombay, 1853). He was also Instructor in Photography at the Elphinstone Institute, Bombay 1855-7 and taught a photography class for three terms before falling numbers persuaded government to abandon the scheme. He also edited the Journal of the Bombay Photographic Society. He appears to have abandoned professional photography in the early 1860s.
In 1853 Crawford wrote to the Secretary of the Photographic Society (London) regarding A New Mode of Conducting the Daguerreotype. This involved placing a cup of heated mercury inside the camera during exposure, and leaving it there for a period afterwards. This increased the sensitivity of the plate, shortening exposure time and improving the sharpness of detail. The letter includes details of a camera design to incorporate this procedure, ‘which for a travelling daguerreotypist is a great improvement.’[1] Crawford’s account was contested by the famous London photographer Claudet, who asserted that he had patented the same idea in 1840, although subsequent experience had convinced him it was worthless.[2] Crawford’s spirited rejoinder came in a letter of 9 December 1853.[3]
Showed 30 large paper views and daguerreotype portraits to the Bombay Photographic Society[4] and showed collodion views of Bombay at the Photographic Society of Bengal Exhibition of Mar 1857.
Partner in the shipping firm of Remington and Crawford, Bombay. Married at Alleppey, Mary May Morris, aged 20, daughter of Thomas D’Arcy Morris, on 21 March 1846.[5] Died of ‘general debility’ at Tellicherry 6 June 1883 and buried the following day. [6]
Joint Secretary (with John Evans qv), Bombay Photographic Society, 1856 (Bombay Times Calendar and Almanac).
Hon. Secretary, Bombay Photographic Society, 1857-(60) (Bombay Times Calendar and Almanac).
W. H. S. Crawford, photographer, Bombay 1856 (Bombay Times Calendar and Almanac).
W. H. S. Crawford, photographer, Bombay Green, Bombay 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860 (Bombay Times Calendar and Almanac).
W. H. S. Crawford, Manager, British Steam Navigation Co., Mazagon, 18(56)-(59) (Bombay Times Calendar and Almanac).
W. H. S. Crawford, coffee planter, Wynaad, 1860-67 (Bombay Calendar and Almanac).
[Crawford’s reports on his work as Instructor in Photography at the Elphinstone Institution: Board’s Collections IOR/F/4/2677/181.526.]
Author: The waxed paper process in hot climates.[7] 

  1. Λ Journal of the Photographic Society, vol. I, no.9, 21 September 1853, pp.105-6. 
  2. Λ ibid., vol.I, no.10, 21 October 1853, pp.117-9. 
  3. Λ ibid., vol.I, no.14, 21 February 1854, pp.167-8. 
  4. Λ Journal of the Bombay photographic society, 15 Jan 1855 
  5. Λ Madras marriages, IOR/N/2 f. 127. 
  6. Λ Madras burials, IOR/N/2/64 f. 116 
  7. Λ Photographic news, vol.2, no.48, 5 Aug 1859, pp.254-6. 

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