Saturday, 24 June 2017

Olive Edis, First Official Female War Photographer

Olive Edis got her first camera in 1900, and set up a studio in Sheringham, Norfolk, in 1905. She became known for her photos of local fisher folk, and also became known for her colour photography. She took her first autochrome pictures in 1912. Later she also had studios in Cromer and Ladbroke Grove in London. The studio in Sheringham still exists - it was designed by her uncle, an architect, with a glass roof to give natural light, and she became known for only using natural light in her photographs.
In 1918, she went to France to photograph the battlefields of France and Flanders, and the British Womens' Services, for the Imperial War Museum. She was only the fourth or fifth photographer officially commissioned to go to a war zone, and the first woman to do so.
In 1920, she was commissioned by Canadian Pacific Railway to take photos for their advertising campaign, and these are believed to be some of the earliest colour photographs of Canada.
She also took portraits of prime ministers, authors and prominent women, including Lloyd George, Thomas Hardy and Nancy Astor, as well as many other prominent people in society.
She died in 1955, and is buried in Sheringham.
Collections of her work are still held by the Imperial War Museum, and Cromer Museum - which holds over 2,000 pictures, the largest single collection of her work. There was also an exhibition of her work last year in Norwich Castle Museum.

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