Focal Press 1938

The Focal Press was founded by Andor Kraszner-Krausz in 1938 and published affordable and expert guides to photography as well as later books on other scientific and photographic technologies, cinematography and television. The inaugural aim of the Focal Press was to make photography comprehensible to the masses at a time when it was often still the preserve of technical experts. The iconic colophon of the Focal Press is the lower case ‘f’ (taken from the f/aperture symbol).

One of the earliest books from the press, The All-in-One Camera Book by E Emanuel and W D Dash, which taught the amateur the principles and practice of good photography, sold over a million copies and went into 81 editions. This book also established the Focal Press style of clear, accessible yet technical text and illustration.

There were Focal Press series such as The Art of Photography, Progress in Photography and the authoritative Focal Press Encyclopedia of Photography. Focal Press went on to also publish books on cinematography, television and other audio-visual sciences.

Focal Press was sold to Pitman in the 1960s, but Andor Kraszna-Krausz continued to run the company until 1978. It was then sold to Butterworth’s and later Routledge.

The Kraszner-Krausz Library, which includes many Focal Press publications from its time under Kraszner-Krausz, was donated to the National Media Museum in 1990.