J.S.P. Ramsay: amateur ornithological photography and the photo processing industry

Peck, Julia (2013) J.S.P. Ramsay: amateur ornithological photography and the photo processing industry. In: Workers and Consumers: The Photographic Industry, 24-25th June 2013, De Montfort University, Leicester. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

J.S.P. Ramsay (b. 1884, d. 1981) was a Sydney‐based businessman running Ramsay Photo Works, a successful photo processing business that operated for several decades from 1925. Ramsay was the son of E.P. Ramsay, the curator of the Australian Museum and natural historian. Unable to follow in his father’s footsteps, but interested nonetheless in ornithology, Ramsay undertook his own fieldwork expeditions, wrote articles for The Emu, campaigned for environmental matters and made photographs of birds and other creatures in the Australian environment. Ramsay also reviewed photographic equipment for The Emu’s readers, providing apt commentary on technical advances and their usefulness to ornithological photographers. Ramsay published some of his own photographs but also licensed them for use to other ornithologists. Little is known of his photographic business but he did advertise his processing and printing services by placing adverts in The Emu and in The Sydney Morning Herald. Indeed, today Ramsay is remembered for his ornithological photographs, his technical innovations and his contributions to environmental matters. Few photographs remain from his processing works so his business success goes largely unremarked. In this instance the passionate amateur ornithologist eclipses the businessman – the subjects of Ramsay’s photographs and his motivating passions were more highly prized than his commercial skills and success. Photography’s commercial arm, as a service industry to other photographers and amateurs, remains invisible. This paper will argue that Ramsay, and his son who helped to piece together his archive, desired to be remembered for his amateur activities over and above his commercial success.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: J.S.P. Ramsay, Photo processing industry, ornithological photography, amateur photography, Ramsay Photo Works
Related URLs:
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
Q Science > QH Natural history
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Art and Design > Photography
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Julia Peck
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2016 10:43
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2016 19:01
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3304

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