Allan Collier, a Lancastrian-in-exile now living in Yeovil, Somerset, is one third of a dedicated team that is currently researching into the history of photography in Somerset. The other members of the team are Robin Ansell and Phil Nichols – both recently retired librarians. Their aim is to document and record all those professional photographers active in the historic County of Somerset between 1841 and 1939. The fruits of their research will be published in book form as an A-Z directory of photographers (similar to that compiled by Gillian Jones on Lancashire) with an accompanying data DVD. The book will include several appendices including geographical index, women photographers index, amateur index as well as non-resident professional photographers. The DVD will contain additional biographical details on each photographer, culled from numerous historical sources including county and town trade directories, census returns, “London Gazette”, newspaper advertisements and death notices / obituaries and the National Probate Calendar. It will also contain many examples of digitally scanned images of ambrotypes, cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards and postcards – all emanating from Somerset studios.The vast majority of these images (both front and back as appropriate) have never been previously published.
Allan burned much midnight oil in his determination to successfully uncover the back-story of Somerset’s first professional photographer – Thomas Clark Sharp (1806-1896). His career, and more than 500 other Somerset photographers, will be traceable through this unique book and DVD package that will appeal to photographic historians, family historians, local historians, social historians and typographic historians– plus those professionals working in local studies libraries,county record offices, heritage centres and museums. It is anticipated that the work will be published in 2015.