In 1892, photographer Paul Martin made a trip to Yarmouth. At the seaside resort in Norfolk he set up his camera (a modified Facile), disguised as a leather box and took some remarkable candid photographs of fellow holiday makers.
An exhibition at Dimbola Museum and Galleries, 22nd April – 26th July 2011, will showcase a selection of these photographs which document seaside holidaymakers in late-Victorian England.
Paul Martin: Victorians at the Seaside, will give a fascinating insight into life in Victorian life and represents one of the earliest series of holiday snapshots.
The Photographer: Paul Augustus Martin accompanied his family to England from France in 1872, he became a commercial wood engraver, and took up amateur photography in the early 1880s. He later became a professional photographer, concentrating on social events such as parades and state occasions.
In 1888 he co-founded the West Surrey Photographic Society. As one of the first reporters and ‘candid’ photographers, Martin used a disguised hand-held camera to supply magazines with photographs of street scenes near his London workplace, children and courting couples, and holidaymakers relaxing at English and continental seaside resorts and pleasure spots that seemed astonishingly natural.
His outstanding achievement was a series of candid pictures made 1892–8 using a modified Facile hand camera, taking a magazine of twelve quarter plates, that could be disguised as a parcel.
Captured unobtrusively by a shy photographer, they have a freshness and immediacy lacking from the contemporary salon pictorialism in which Martin, perhaps through lack of funds, was only a fringe participant. (Prior to exhibiting them as lantern slides, Martin blacked out the backgrounds of many of his snapshots, so that the main figures resembled cut-outs, a practice that differentiated him significantly from milieu-conscious contemporary documentarists like Lewis Hine, Jacob Riis, or Alice Austen.
He experimented continually, and in 1896 received the Royal Photographic Society’s Gold Medal for a series of pioneering night photographs entitled London by Gaslight, which drew praise from Alfred Stieglitz. Between 1899 and 1926 Martin ran a mixed photographic business. His autobiography, Victorian Snapshots, appeared in 1939.
Dimbola Website www.dimbola.co.uk
Paul Martin Biography (1864–1944), London by Gaslight, Victorian Snapshots, Victorian, London, Series, and Snapshots click here: Read more about the Victorian Photographer click here Getty Images.
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