Newhaven Fishermen

David Octavius Hill
Robert Adamson

Calotype photograph by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, mounted on paper. Part of Hill and Adamson's project “The Fishermen and Women of the Firth of Forth,” this image shows two fishermen posed sitting on a bench in Newhaven, near Edinburgh.

This double portrait by the painter David OctaviusHill and the early photographer Robert Adamson is one of some 130 images they would make of the inhabitants of Newhaven and other small fishing villages near Edinburgh, Scotland. Entitled “The Fishermen and Women of the Firth of Forth,” their project constitutes the first sustained use of photographs for a social documentary purpose. During the age of the Industrial Revolution and its attendant social problems, Hill and Adamson presented Newhaven as an exemplar of village life—a community bound by tradition, mutual support, honest labor, and the continuity of generations. The artists attempted to emphasize these qualities by the careful posing of figures and by embracing the graphic strength and gritty effect of the paper negative (calotype) process. Here the focus is on a pair of young fishermen and the traditional willow basket used to haul their catch up the hill to the bustling market in Edinburgh.


Object Number:
calotype process
National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

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