A Sailing Match at Horning - Peter Henry Emerson - (Camden Graphics) - Framed Picture - 12" x 16"
Peter Henry Emerson was a British writer and photographer. His photographs are early examples of promoting photography as an art form. He is known for taking photographs that displayed natural settings and for his disputes with the photographic establishment about the purpose and meaning of photography.
Emerson was a distant relative of Samuel Morse and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He spent his early years in Cuba on his father's estate. During the American Civil War he spent some time at Wilmington, Delaware, but moved to England in 1869.
He bought his first camera in 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.
Initially influenced by naturalistic French painting, he argued for similarly "naturalistic" photography and took photographs in sharp focus to record country life as clearly as possible. His first album of photographs, published in 1886, was entitled Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads, and it consisted of 40 platinum prints that were informed by these ideas. Before long, however, he became dissatisfied with rendering everything in sharp focus, considering that the undiscriminating emphasis it gave to all objects was unlike the way the human eye saw the world.
During his life Emerson fought against the British photographic establishment on a number of issues.
Emerson also believed that the photograph should be a true representation of that which the eye saw. Following contemporary optical theories, he produced photographs with one area of sharp focus while the remainder was unsharp. He vehemently pursued this argument about the nature of seeing and its representation in photography, to the discomfort of the photographic establishment.