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Sir Benjamin Stone

(1838—1914) photographer and politician


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(1838–1914), English industrialist and parliamentarian, a keen, even obsessive amateur photographer and collector of photographs. Although appointed by King George V as official photographer of the 1911 coronation, Stone's major contribution was to the Survey movement, especially the establishment of the National Photographic Record Association (1897–1910). He was president of the Birmingham Photographic Society and closely involved with the Warwickshire Photographic Survey, from which the national vision emerged. Soon known as ‘Mr Snapshot’, he contributed many photographs to the Survey himself, travelling tirelessly to photograph ancient customs, architecture, and townscapes, sometimes aided by other photographers. His political connections gave him unparalleled access. Perhaps his most famous picture is of sailor-suited Mbuti ‘pygmies’ on the steps of the House of Commons. A fervent advocate of systematic photography as a historical record, he gave lantern lectures to camera clubs, working men's clubs, and charities, and published an affordable two-volume book, Sir Benjamin Stone's Pictures: Records of National Life and History (1905–6). He photographed extensively abroad, including Japan, the West Indies, and South Africa. His 37,000 photographs and 50 volumes of collected images are in Birmingham Central Library.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.


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