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A Sea of Steps, Wells Cathedral, Steps to Chapter House | Frederick H. Evans 1903
A Sea of Steps, Wells Cathedral, Steps to Chapter House © Frederick H. Evans, 1903 | Image source internet

Frederick H. Evans

Photography is Photography; And in it’s purity and innocence is far too uniquely, valuable and beautiful to be spoilt by making it imitate something else.

Frederick H. Evans

Frederick H. Evans (1853 –1943) was a British photographer best known for his platinum prints of architectural interiors of English and French cathedrals. He was born and died in London. Before devoting his time solely to the art of photography, Evans owned a small bookshop in London where many artists and writers, including George Bernard Shaw and Aubrey Beardsley, came together. He become a full-time photographer in 1898 when he adopted the platinotype technique for his photography. Platinotype images, with extensive and subtle tonal range, non-glossy-images, and better resistance to deterioration than other methods available at the time, suited Evans’ subject matter. Almost as soon as he began, however, the cost of platinum – and consequently, the cost of platinum paper for his images – began to rise. Because of this cost, and because he was reluctant to adopt alternate methodologies, by 1915 Evans retired from photography altogether.

Frederick Evans did take some portraits of his notable friends, including George Bernard Shaw, but his photographic mastery can be found in his images of English and French cathedrals. Frederick Evans worked tirelessly to use the effects of light and shade to create images with harmonized values and he achieved these masterful works of art without manipulating the negative or the print. Evans’ ideal of straightforward, “perfect” photographic rendering – unretouched or modified in any way – as an ideal was well-suited to the architectural foci of his work: the ancient, historic, ornate, and often quite large cathedrals, cloisters, and other buildings of the English and French countryside. This perfectionism, along with his tendency to exhibit and write about his work frequently, earned him international respect and much imitation. He ultimately became regarded as perhaps the finest architectural photographer of his, or any, era – though some professionals privately felt that Evans’ philosophy favoring extremely literal images was restrictive of the creative expression rapidly becoming available within the growing technology of the photographic field.

Evans was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1928, he was also a member of the Linked Ring photographic society.

Published on March 3, 2021
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