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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Law

Other: Rev. Law 
Dates:  1812 - 1900
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

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

Corresponding with Photographic Notes in February 1857, Rev. Law was addressed by the editor as one of the “photographers of old standing.” His earliest known works are daguerreotypes and collodion negatives of his family made in 1853, but he was producing calotypes by at least 1855 and soon turned to waxed paper. Taking a lively interest in all matters photographic, Law subjected a print created with one of Thomas Sutton’s processes to a torture test by suspending it for many months against a damp wall. He was an experimentalist who believed, as he wrote in “Waxed Paper Process,” that “the grand secret . . . of success in photographic operations is the disposition and ability to trace failures to their causes.” Law participated in the newly formed Northamptonshire Photographic Society, expressing the hope in the Northampton Mercury that the society’s monthly meetings would “blend the practical and instructive with the theoretical and the descriptive.” Law exhibited only once, but his contribution was significant. Of the twenty-seven photographs that he submitted to the 1857 exhibition of the Birmingham Photographic Society, the majority were done in waxed paper; four were by Talbotype and two in collodion. He also experimented with the albumen-on-glass negative process. Law read a detailed account of his waxed-paper process before the Birmingham Photographic Society in 1857, expanding on his remarks in the journals. Late that year he was attracted to collodion, but unlike most photographers he eschewed the heavy and fragile glass and instead turned to paper coated with collodion. Writing in Photographic Notes in December, Law observed somewhat ruefully that this approach “will bear off the palm from the Calotype, which is certainly saying a great deal.” In 1897 the local paper noted that Rev. Law was still active, photographing the May Queen and her entourage. 
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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