William Bradford, a “photographic artist”


Google’s Ngram Viewer allows one to mine deep-level data. Digitization has benefits. William Bradford has been referred to as, and in fact was, a “photographic artist”. Ngram viewer provides a decade by decade look at how this term was used.

Ingram-photographic artist


A possible first public reference to him as a “photographic artist” was made by Isaac Israel Hayes, in the 1874 Annual Report of the Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York.

One thought on “William Bradford, a “photographic artist”

  1. One can imagine the appeal of photography to Arctic explorers who saw “the world as their canvas.” In addition the vivid written descriptions of Dr. Hayes and other Arctic explorers of his day, they could photograph Arctic seascapes and other subjects with the eye of a photographer and an artist. As an exemplary maritime and Arctic painter and photographer, the term “photographic artist” is well suited.

    For one of the most eloquent written descriptions of the Arctic, readers can refer to and revel in Dr. Hayes’ narrative of the coast of Ellesmere Land, Chapter XXX of “The Open Polar Sea,” pages 340-341:

    The coast along which we were following were now traveling possessed much
    interest. It presented a line of very lofty cliffs of Silurian rocks – sandstone and
    Limestone – much broken down by the wasting influences of the winter frosts
    And summer thaws. Behind these cliffs the land rose into lofty peaks… Upon
    the sides of these peaks the snow rested, clothing them with a uniform white
    ness… Along the entire coast of Grinnell Land no glaciers appears, presenting
    thus a striking contrast to Greenland and the land on the south side of Smith
    Sound – the Ellesmere Land of Captain Inglefield.

    The reader can imagine the commanding images that Bradford, as a “photographic artist,” could have obtained with his camera if he had accompanied Dr. Hayes to this extremis of northern lands.
    Regards, Fran Hennessey

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