Fenton was not the first photographer to set foot in the Crimea but he was the first to produce a substantial body of work. An exhibition of Fenton’s pioneering war photographs has just opened in Edinburgh at The Queen’s Gallery. Through more than 60 photographs, acquired by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, we witness the war’s brutality and futility and at the same time appreciate Fenton’s singular artistic talent. It puts the viewer in the position of the allied soldier sighting the city – and the campaign’s final goal – in the far distance. Unlike standard mid-19th century landscape photographs which prioritised the picturesque, Fenton’s Sevastopol pictures are minimalist panoramas, presenting only barren, featureless plains. But Fenton was not only interested in the main players. He set up what was to become the Royal Photographic Society. We see Nubian servants and Tartar labourers; uniformed vivandières (the women who supplied French troops with food and drink) and Zouaves (Algerian soldiers who fought for the French). Fenton has the distinction of being the first war photographer but also the misfortune of being too little known. Start counting them. In 1858, the Journal of the Photographic Society commented: ‘There is such an artistic feeling about the whole of these pictures that they cannot fail to strike the beholder as being something more than mere photographs.’, In 1860, he made what may well be the first modernist image, a precursor of Warholian democracy – The Queen’s Target. Fitting then that he found his way from his first avocation, painting – he wasn’t very good – to the industrial revolution’s most notable bequest to … Fenton’s career only lasted eight years but it was a fully packed one. He turned his camera on a wide range of individuals of other nationalities whose lives were caught up in the conflict and whose existence was unfamiliar to viewers back home. Fitting then that he found his way from his first avocation, painting – he wasn’t very good – to the industrial revolution’s most notable bequest to … It’s also possible Fenton himself placed the cannonballs there – a notion recently explored with his usual acuity by that great forensic analyst of photography, Errol Morris. Council of War by Roger Fenton. It is to promote questioning and debate. There are the obligatory portraits of august military commanders. This criticism is no longer valid. Instead of blood, guts and corpses, Fenton concentrated on creating images of the aftermath and effects of war, from bombed buildings and shattered soldiers to the ravaged land on which so many lives were lost. He also reflects on the power of the family album. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! If photography were only invented now, what we would choose to photograph? does not set out to give a history of the war, only one man’s interpretation of it. Plus this week photographer Jan Töve takes on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file no longer than 5 minutes in […]. The camera regularly lies when it feels the need or the wish to.). Pause, take another breath. Council of War was to be one of Fenton’s most popular photographs as it presents the three allied generals planning a crucial joint attack. […], In episode 134 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed considering what makes an iconic image and music photography, the importance of editing, and the appropriation of 'lockdown' as a fashion photography moment. by Orville O. Clarke, Jr. (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu) Roger Fenton was one of those giants of l9th-Century photography whose images most people have only seen reproduced in books.The rarely exhibited Oriental Suite, with its se-ductive recreations of "mysterious" Turkish life, offers Museum visitors a captivating introduction to this gifted artist. The exact reasons have never became fully clear but, most likely, he realised fashions in photography were already moving on, making it financially unviable for him. After a private viewing, Queen Victoria recorded in her journal that Fenton’s portraits and views were “extremely well done”. It was a prolonged and pointless internecine war in which Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire allied against Russia in a bid to stem its territorial expansion. Roger Fenton was born on March 28, 1819, into northern wealth – a son of that economic power train of the Industrial Revolution, the cotton trade. Plus this week photographer Eduard Korniyenko takes on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file no longer than 5 minutes in length […], In episode 131 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed considering technology and photography, marking the passing of Frank Horvat, and reflecting on the portrait photograph as a historical document. Roger Fenton, Valley of the Shadow of Death (1855) — Source This image, taken by Roger Fenton during the Crimean War in 1855, is one of the earliest photographic records of warfare. See the scattering of cannonballs. Fenton was the first official war photographer, shooting images that demonstrated the effects of war. Other Balaklava images are less ambiguous and expertly capture the bustle and chaos of what was once a sleepy Russian port. The most striking portrait is Captain Lord Balgonie, not a smart and steely officer primed for battle but a haunted and dishevelled wreck with a wide-eyed stare. He turned his camera on a wide range of individuals of other nationalities whose lives were caught up in the conflict and whose existence was unfamiliar to viewers back home. Sophie Gordon, the exhibition’s curator and head of photographs at the Royal Collection Trust, defends Fenton’s use of artistic licence. Plus this week photographer Ethan Hill takes on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file […], In episode 119 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed considering the pyramid scheme of photography, photo gambling and pressing the video button.