It is generally acknowledged that the first permanent photograph was produced by Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. He then collaborated with Louis Daguerre, to whom his notes passed when he (Niepce) died of a stroke in 1833. Daguerre announced the invention of his process called the daguerreotype in 1939, at the same time that Englishman Willam Fox Talbot was inventing the calotype process, which produced a photograph on paper.
Jersey was very quickly involved in both forms of photography. On 9 May 1840 the newspaper Chronique de Jersey announced that an exhibition would take place that day "at one o'clock precisely, at No. 3, Bond street, when the whole process of this invention will be developed, from the preparation of the silvered plate to the production of the picture thereon by the action of the rays of light only, and afterwards making it visible by submitting the plate to the fumes of mercury. A view of the Old Church will be taken. - Admittance, One Shilling British". This is believed to be the first demonstration of the daguerreotype in Jersey, although history does not record whether the view of the "Old Church" was successfully taken and whether it survived. It is also not known how many attended the demonstration, but the charge of 'One Shilling British' would have been beyond the means of all but the more affluent islanders.
It was not long before itinerant French photographers were active with their daguerreotype cameras in Jersey. The first was a Monsieur Roemhild, who was in the island in 1842, working from St Saviour's Road, and again three years later in Belmont Road.
Alfred Barber was in Jersey between September 1843 and September 1844 based at Lozey's Hotel de Paris. Others of his countrymen who visited the island professionally in the first decade of daguerreotype photography were Le Feuvre (1846), Roze (1848) and Bouillards (1850).
One of the first Jerseymen to experiment with photography was the famous artist Philip Ouless, who took daguerreotypes in 1845 and 1846 and then went into business with his son, Clarence, who was active in New Street from 1871 to 1914.
One of the first photographers to use Fox Talbot's calotype process in Jersey was William Collie. Some of his previously unpublished photographs featured alongside those of Fox Talbot,among others, in an exhibition at the Musée Dorsay in Paris in 2008 of the first photographs taken on paper in Britain from 1840 to 1860. Collie was born in Scotland in 1810 and was in business in Jersey in Belmont Road and Bath Street from before 1850 until 1878. A picture of Market Women in St Helier taken in 1847 and printed on salted paper survives in a private collection.
At the same time as Collie first came to Jersey, Thomas Sutton was setting up his photographic studio in St Brelade's Bay, after leaving Cambridge University in 1846. Sutton was one of the pioneers of photography. He took the world's first colour photograph, invented a panoramic camera and also the single lens reflex camera, whose basic design persists in the top quality amateur and professional cameras of the 21st century.
La Société Jersiaise has an extensive collection of over 60,000 photographs by prominent local photographers dating from the mid 1840s to the present day and is the principal Jersey collection of nineteenth and early twentieth century photography. Over half of these images can be viewed on line. The archive can be searched by subject, photographer, names and places, or by a random text reference.
The subjects represented in the collection are as diverse as the multitude of formats and processes within which they are formed. Examples range from the earliest daguerreotypes and calotypes through the Collodion, Albumen and Gelatin process advancements of the Victorian era. Interspersed with the most prevalent processes, are the many variant techniques conceived, adopted and abandoned throughout the growth and maturity of the medium leading to the present day.
Cartes de visite
Photographic portraits on a card backing, known as Cartes de Visite (visiting cards with photographic images about 6cm x 9cm) became enormously popular in Jersey in Victoria times and many photographic studios opened to provide this service, and individual and family portraits of larger sizes. At last people who could not afford to have paintings created could enjoy the benefits of the craze for photography. Thousands of these photographs still exist in albums, boxes, envelopes and drawers and are a major aide to those researching their family history. Sadly, far too high a proportion of these family treasures are handed down a generation with no notes to identify them and are eventually thrown away. Even if a name is written on the back, without a date it is sometimes impossible to tie in a photograph with a particular family member.
Sometimes knowing the photographer - usually printed on the back of the photograph - can help in pinpointing the time when the picture was taken, and there are experts in clothing style and other factors who can help date photographs.
It is beyond the scope of this article, at this time, to list dates for sequences of negative numbers for particular photographers, but Jerripedia's comprehensive list of over 140 photographers who were active in Jersey from 1840 onwards, together with the addresses they operated from within certain dates should help identify the approximate date when many of their photographs were taken.
Jerripedia users are invited to provide information to expand this section, either with the names of photographers not yet on our list, or by providing more detailed information about their lives and their photographs.
Another form of photographs of inestimable value to the historian is the postcard. Many of the photographs from the late Victorian era and the early part of the 20th century which survive today were printed as postcards. They are very collectible items and many suppliers have catalogue listings on line.
- An example of the difficulty in dating photographs/postcards
- A gallery of photographs from the 1850s - or are they?
These are some of the most influential photographers in Jersey in the early days of photography:
- Asplet and Green
- George and James Bashford
- Ernest Baudoux
- William Collie
- Edwin Dale New content in 2017
- Francis de FayeAdded 2017
- Percival Dunham, photojournalist
- Francis Foot
- Philip Godfray
- Gregory and Eddy, a set of CDV views from the 1870s
- Emile Guiton
- Victor Hugo, the first amateur known to have taken photographs in Jersey, although most of the images attributed to him were probably taken by his son Charles
- Mc Dougal
- Philip Morel-Laurens
- Henry Mullins
- Clarence Philip Ouless
- Thomas Price Added 2019
- Thomas Singleton
- Mr and Mrs Slater
- Albert Smith
- J R G Stroud
- Thomas Sutton
- Le Brocq and Le Clercq
- Collecting Jersey postcards, an article from the 2006 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise
- The beginnings of photography in Jersey, an article from the 2002 Annual Bulletin which explains how the absence of patent rights helped early photographers to establish their businesses in Jersey
- Pictures of mid-19th century Jersey in remarkable album
- Jersey's earliest photographs - a timeline
- How old are these photographs?, searching for the oldest photographs taken in Jersey
- Photographs of Jersey in the '60s and '70s by Pierre Mette
- 1858 stereo pair of Jersey fisherwomen
- Gallery of 19th century pictures by Ernest Baudoux
- A collection of Victorian cartes de visite by a variety of Jersey photographers
- 19th century photographs by Anjoux, a photographer from Paris
- An album of 1879 Channel Island photographs from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris
- An album of 1880s Jersey photographs from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris
- More photographs from the Bibliotheque Nationale collection
- A set of 1890s Photochrom pictures
- Hand-tinted Victorian slides
- Four 150-year-old photographs
- From a French photographer's 1896 album
- A collection of 1890s photographs
This early 20th century still-life of a vase of flowers was claimed in 2019 to be the earliest colour photograph taken in Jersey, which seems unlikely given that colour photography dates back to 1861, and although possibly not taken in Jersey, there is a surviving colour photograph from that year taken by Thomas Sutton, who had a business in the island from 1847
Children in a Jersey park, a 1911 colour photograph by Emile Guiton
Alderson of the 97th Regiment by Ernest Baudoux
Albert Smith portrait of a lady in furs
A portrait at La Corbière, taken during the Occupation
Paul Augustus Martin
Six photographs taken in Jersey in 1893 by the renowned French photographer Paul Augustus Martin
Burning vraic for fertiliser