Peter Henry Emerson

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P. H. Emerson, W. Boughton, 1897.
Born May 13, 1856(1856-05-13)
Encrucijada, Cuba
Died May 12, 1936(1936-05-12) (aged 79)

Peter Henry Emerson (1856-1936) was a British photographer and writer. Emerson was of the idea that photography was in fact art, but strongly disagreed with the type of painting it was trying to imitate [1]. He bought his first camera in 1881 or 1882 to be used as a tool on bird-watching trips with his friend, the ornithologist A. T. Evans. In 1885 he was involved in the formation of the Camera Club of London, and the following year he was elected to the Council of the Photographic Society and abandoned his career as a surgeon to become a photographer and writer.

Emerson pioneered the creative use of the photogravure process. He considered it the most refined photomechanical technique and the ideal means of publishing his work. Beginning in 1887, Emerson published seven books heavily illustrated with his sensitive gravure images of life, labor and landscape in rural England [2].


  • Paul Ray at the Hospital: a Picture of Student Life, 1882 (privately published)
  • Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads, 1886
  • Pictures from Life in Field and Fen, 1887
  • Pictures of East Anglian Life, 1888
  • Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art, 1889
About Emerson
  • Taylor, John, The old order and the new: P.H. Emerson and photography, 1885-1895, Munich and New York: Prestel, 2006.
  • Mark Durden (ed.), Fifty Key Writers on Photography, Routledge, 2013.