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Read, Watch and Listen

Father with Sons, Ambrotype

This ambrotype provides a good example of how the itinerant beach photographer would frame and complete the image. Often these 19th century seaside images were presented neatly through the use of thin flexible brass matte (often elaborately stamped) and then encased in simple, yet attractive painted wooden or papier mache frames. At the cheapest end of the market, tintypes (not ambrotypes) would be slipped or glued into light card sleeves.

Large Family Group on the Sands, Tintype​

This large family grouping provides an example of a key characteristic of the tintype image – that of lateral reversal. The image that we see is reversed in a similar way to a mirror image. This of course becomes most evident when text, as seen here in the nearby stall’s signage, is included in the final image.

Couple on the Sands, Ambrotype​

The itinerant beach photographer was the first mass-producer of plein-air portraits and very quickly introduced seaside paraphernalia as ‘props’, seen here in the clinker-built boats signifying a coastal location. The two sitters we also see typify a fashionably confident pose of the day. They verge on the defiant in their informality and intimacy, indicated by lounging together on the pebbles and the male placing his arm fully around the shoulder of the female.

Family in Bathers/Studio, Unframed Tintype

19th century examples of sitters wearing bathing costumes paradoxically have not been taken at the seaside, but rather at nearby portrait studios frequently situated close to the beach. This modest unframed tintype is perhaps an example of the studio bathing costume portrait at its most stark.

Couple in Bathers/Studio

This studio portrait of a couple in bathing costumes whilst modest nevertheless seeks a more naturalistic mise-en-scene of faux beach, rock and driftwood and is then given further depth through the tromp l’oeil seascape backdrop. The rented bathing costumes bear the name of the photographer’s studio ‘H.J.Larkins’, but as a tintype seen here in lateral reverse.