May 19, 2012

1870's photographers daylight studio

In 1988 I started preparing a photohistory exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of photography in 1989. I had a large room in a local museum to my disposal and I started to design the exhibition. Among other things I wanted to show the evolution of cameras and the impact of inventions on the kind of photos that were made. With the help of some fellow collectors I managed to fill a 20 yard glass wall with all sorts of cameras and photos from the first hundred years of photography.

In 1988 I had also researched the 19th century photographic history of the city of Roermond, close to where I live, and was able to show all the interesting products from the local photographers, from tiny lockets with portraits to a large panoramic photo of the building of a bridge over the river Meuse in the early 1860's.

What I did not have was a photographers daylight studio. So I set to work to build one. I decided to make it on a 1 : 6 scale, simply because I had two Barbie dolls that I "borrowed" from my eldest sister, and they measured about 28 centimeter. Maybe a bit tall for 19th century people, but it would do. I had a nice library on the history of photography, so I had enough information to put together a studio like it would have been around 1870. During more than one year I worked on it, making two studio cameras (one is a four lens cdv camera), props, head rests, the glass roof and curtains, a table and tiny albums and photos on the walls of the studio. A friend made the clothes for the dolls.

During the past 23 years the studio was stored at the home of my parents. Now my mother is moving to a home for the elderly and I had to decide what to do with the studio. It is a bit too large for my museum and I prepared to sell it. This weekend I took a number of photos that I was going to show on eBay. While I was taking the pics my wife suggested that I should consider again if I really wanted to sell the studio. Well... you probably know how it ended. Although it is too large for my museum I decided to keep it a little longer. I just have to move the glass cabinet a bit to the left and the chair a bit to the right and I will also have to find a new place for a little table, but then the studio will fit into the room.
Here's a video showing my scale model of a 1870's daylight studio.

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