Posted by: annmucc | November 11, 2008

Identification of Photographs

The last time I had visited the TNA the main photographic conservator there, Stephen Harwood, had told me that if I wanted he could get out different photos and show me how the different ones could be identified. He has only (or at least the vast majority of the time) dealt with black and white photographs, but I guess anything I could learn from that I could then use for colour photographs…certainly not a waste of time, Today was the day!

When I arrived there, I was told that he was in a meeting, so I had to wait for around an hour till the meeting finished and he dealt with a request by a reader. Oh well, I took that time to go through my work notebook and see what has been done and what is still to be done and organise a couple of thoughts in my head.Meeting ready and everything dealt with? Good! Let’s start!

He had a whole collection of different photographs out on the table. Reading literature about colour photographs, I had of course come across details about the different black and white photographic processes, so i was familiar with quite a lot of them, by name if nothing else. Nevertheless, it was good to see them close and to also view them under the microscope, as Stephen showed me how one can identify the different processes. Apparently all the photographs he had on the table were his own, since he does this talk outside the TNA as well, so he wouldn’t be able to take out TNA materials. He also has 3 daguerreotypes (while the TNA has only 2 :P), which represent the first photographic process.

While there I also took the opportunity to ask some questions I had regarding the collection there to help me organise my project better. Good day of information gathering!

BTW…this is a podcast of Stephen Harwood about photograph identification. Check it out 🙂

Watch the Birdie



  1. Interesting interested and much interest.

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