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The photography of Alexander Hogg (1870-1939) - Dr Lucy Wray

On Friday 18th November Bangor and North Down Camera Club had the pleasure of introducing Lucy Wray who had recently submitted her PhD at Queen's University, Belfast, researching the history of nineteenth and twentieth-century Ireland through photography focusing on the social and cultural aspects. She also recently got awarded her Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS). This award is extremely rare to be given to anyone who hasn’t even taken a photograph.

Her doctoral thesis was based on the work of Belfast photographer Alexander Hogg (1870-1939). Lucy told us that she usually directs her audience to the Ulster Museum’s webpage to view the archive images that Hogg took as they have most of them digitised.

Lucy started her presentation by talking a little bit about the history of photography. It is thought that photography was invented in 1839 by Daguerre in Paris and Henry Fox Talbot in England. Lucy touched on the fact that once photography was known to exist, there were photographic society’s set up in the 1850’s and mainly comprised of a select few who understood the science of photography using chemicals needed to develop images. She also mentioned two other contemporary photographers R.J.Welch and W.A.Green who were active at the same time as A.R.Hogg and how their work differed.

Hogg was a major figure in the history of photography in the north of Ireland, originally from the townland of Tullywest. When he was about 14, he moved to Belfast where he was an apprentice at his uncle's pharmacy. He eventually became the general manager of Lizars, which was still situated in Belfast until quite recently. Hogg did very little portrait work. Instead, he earned his living from a very wide range of commissions from lawyers, transport companies, architects, housing associations, etc.

His images made it possible to understand everyday life in Belfast at that time. He was fortunate enough to get a lot of work over the years. He was also the official photographer for Belfast's shipbuilders. He also took promotional photographs for Belfast Central Mission (who help people in need, no matter what their background was). These images were mainly off children printed onto an envelope and posted through letterboxes asking for donations to help. Others photos were images taken on excursions out of Belfast.

Towards the end of Lucy’s talk she showed us some portrait images of families emigrating from Belfast to Canada that were captured by Hogg. He certainly had a diverse range of images throughout his career.

On behalf of BNDCC we would like to say thank you to Lucy on her fascinating talk on Hogg and we also congratulate her on her FRPS.

The clubs next meeting is Friday 25th Nov and is another hybrid joint event with our n

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