Siam: Through The Lens Of John Thomson 1865-66

Siam: Through The Lens Of John Thomson 1865-66

Siam: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1865-66

Legendary Scottish photographer and travel writer John Thomson (1837-1921) set off for the East in 1862 and over the next ten years undertook numerous journeys to various countries including Siam, Cambodia and China, becoming the first person to photograph Angkor Wat, Cambodia. The photographs from these journeys form one of the most extensive records of any region taken in the 19th century. The range, depth and aesthetic quality of John Thomson s photographic vision mark him out as one of the most important travel photographers.

At that time cameras were large and heavy. The photographic images were exposed onto a glass negative and this had to be done in complete darkness, on location, in a portable darkroom tent. Thomson travelled with a large number of cumbersome crates, glass negatives and highly flammable and poisonous chemicals. Given that his journeys took him through difficult terrain and insect-infested jungles, sometimes to regions where a white man had not been seen before, it is all the more remarkable that Thomson was able to make photographs of such beauty and sensitivity. During an era when his contemporaries took portraits in which their subjects looking stilted...

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