Advertisement for Maurice Palmer, photographer
Printer: A. Gast & Co.
Medium: Print on paper
Richard Beard opened England's first commercial photographic portrait studio on the roof of the Royal Polytechnic Institution in Regent Street, London in 1841. However, it was not until the early 1850s, when his patent to the Daguerreotype process expired and Scott Archer introduced a more sensitive wet collodion process, that other photographers were free to set up commercial studios using any method. Success in this venture depended as much on the photographer's ability to attract sufficient custom as his skill in operating the photographic equipment.
In London the number of studios rapidly grew along the main commercial and retail streets - particularly the West End, The City and Westminster. Competition greatly reduced the cost of portraiture. This advertisement of 1870, features one of Maurice Palmer's 'Cabinet portraits'. These large photographs had been popular from the mid 1860s, and usually featured one sitter or a small group.
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