Fraser, Charles 1917 - 2009


Charles Fraser was a professional photographer and photography teacher who taught practical photography with an awareness of photographic history at Ealing School of Photography from 1953-1980.

Born in Hamburg, Germany in 1917 as Carl Eugen Gustav Heinrich Herbert Freytag, the eldest son of Ferdinand and Claire Freytag, he was later known in England as Charles Fraser. He served in the Second World War for Britain under the Pioneer Corps in France until rescued from Dunkirk. In 1945 he served in the Ardennes and he was later transferred to Brussels where he worked on drawing maps of proposed post-war occupation zones.

When Charles Fraser first arrived in England he began an apprenticeship working for Abbott Brothers of Southall making furniture. At this time he lived with portrait photographer Len Taylor at Manor Studios, inspiring his interest in photography. Fraser had his first professional photography job at Southalls Photo Studio. From 1948-51 he was chief photographer for the Festival of Britain and in 1951 Fraser first visited Photokina. Here he met L Fritz Gruber who went on to organize over 300 Photokina cultural exhibitions. Fraser worked at Photokina for a year in 1952 before becoming Senior Lecturer at Ealing School of Photography in 1953.

From the 1950s Charles Fraser was very interested and actively engaged in groups working towards creating a United Europe such as the Council of European professional Photographers known as Europhot. He was particularly interested in what this would mean for the rights of professional photographers regarding, for example, copyright and teaching methods. In 1959, as chairman of the Europhot Education Commission, Fraser planned, organised and chaired the first European International Students of Photography seminar and the first European International Students of Photography exchange.

Charles Fraser’s work at Ealing School of Photography initially combined professional photography with lecturing. At this time Fraser began to encourage his students to learn from and with professional photographers. Fraser taught all aspects of practical photography. In the 1950s he taught with pre-war equipment and by 1954, due to his links with Photokina, Fraser was also able to acquire the latest developments in photographic technology such as the Agfa enlarger. Although History of Photography was not taught on these courses, Fraser encouraged his students to understand the origins of photography and historic technologies and images, inspired by the notion of progress. From 1953-1980 he took his students on visits to Photokina every other year.