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Francis Frith (1822 - 1898)

“Give me a fulcrum for my lever, and I will move the world”
- Francis Frith

Francis Frith was born at Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England in 1822 to a Quaker family. Before turning his attention to photography around 1850, Francis Frith was apprenticed to a cutlery firm and worked as a wholesale grocer. In 1856 he sold his business to dedicate more time to photography. With a partner, he opened up the Frith & Hayward photography studio in Liverpool and later that year, he made a trip to Egypt.  He photographed along the way using the collodian process and three different cameras: a stereoscopic camera and two large format cameras using 8” x 10” and 16” x 20” negatives. At the end of his trip, his images were published widely in Great Britain and he was also successful at selling large prints from his voyages. 
The success of these images financed Frith's next trip to Palestine, Syria, and Egypt in late 1857. He published these images between 1858 and 1860. In the summer of 1859, Frith returned to Egypt and did an extensive study of the landscape, traveling up the Nile, farther than any earlier photographer had gone. He returned to Britain and opened his own firm to publish his images, as well as the work of other photographers. In 1860, Frith married and began project photographing in and around Great Britain, usually accompanied by his wife, four photographic assistances, and later by his children.  As his company grew, he began commissioning teams of photographers to continue photographing around England and the rest of the world. In 1898, Frith died in Cannes, France and the company was taken over by his children.  For many years, his company was the leading producer of photographic postcards depicting towns and villages over the whole of Britain, as well as views of Italy, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Japan, China, India, Egypt and the Middle East.  Frith and Company was preserved under family ownership until 1968, and remained in operated in England until 1971.


Royal Photographic Society

Photography speaks: 150 Photographers on Their Art Edited by Brooks Johnson



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