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Advertisement for the Royal Academy Studios of photographer, W Mountain

Advertisement for the Royal Academy Studios of photographer, W Mountain

Printer: Unknown

Medium: Print on paper

Date: 1884

Shelfmark: Evan.6482

Item number: 6482

Genre: Leaflet

By the early 1850s, Richard Beard's patent on the Daguerreotype process of photography had expired, and Scott Archer had introduced a more sensitive wet collodion process. Photographers were now free to set up commercial practices using either method. Success in their ventures depended as much on the photographers' ability to attract sufficient demand as on their photographic skills.

Competition between the growing number of studios in London greatly reduced the cost of portraiture. In this advertisement from the late-19th century, W Mountain provides notes for his intending customers to ensure they get the best results from their sittings. He also gives his prices for the Cabinet portrait, a large photograph of one person, or a small group, intended for display. Also advertised are Cartes de Visite - small calling cards that featured a photograph on one side and the name and address of the sitter on the reverse. These were avidly collected and often arranged in albums.

Daguerreotype was one of the earliest photographic processes. An impression was taken on a silver plate sensitized by iodine, then developed by exposure to vapours of mercury - a potentially harmful process which resulted in a single image.

The collodion process was introduced in 1851. Collodion, a viscuous liquid, dried to form a very thin clear film over the image produced. The process could be used on glass sheets to provide a negative image, from which many positive images could be printed. Collodion was never patented.

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