EPS Founding Member  +  BJP Editor

J Traill Taylor

   John Traill Taylor  -  1890 


1827:  John Traill Taylor was reported to have been born on 23 January in Kirkwall, Orkney.   [Obit. BJP]  [Obit. TPP]. 

However, a few months before his death, in an interview for The Photogram, J Traill Taylor said:

"The fact is, I cannot tell to a year or two the exact date of my birth, which occurred in the Orkneys, as the register containing this memorable record was believed to have been destroyed; but as nearly as I can ascertain I was born somewhere about sixty-five years ago, and left the Orkneys for Edinburgh in 1845."    [Biog TP]

Education:  John Traill Taylor was educated for educated for the ministry, but instead, followed his father's business as a watchmaker, learning optics and chemistry, then photography.    [Obit TPP]

Experiments:  He made many experiments with Talbot and wrote an account of Talbot's life for The British Journal in 1864.  He was associated with Mungo Ponton, Sir David Brewster, Piazzi Smyth and other noteworthy scientists and early photographers.    [Obit TPP]

1856:  John Traill Taylor circulated a small manuscript magazine, entitled The Photographer.  Extracts from this magazine frequently appeared in Sutton's Photographic Notes.    [Obit TPP]

Over the next few years, he became a frequent contributor to many magazines, including the British Journal of Photography.    [Obit TPP]


    John Traill Taylor  -  1859

1861:  John Traill Taylor founded Edinburgh Photographic Society.

After establishing a business of watchmaker, jeweller and optician in Edinburgh, he reported:

"It was in the little workroom at the back of my shop that four or five of my friends interested in the progress of  photography used to meet and have what we called 'a photographic chat'

From these meetings arose the Edinburgh Photographic Society, which we started with seven members.

We took a small room in the coffee house, and drew the first subscription of five shillings from James Valentine, the founder of the present firm of view publishers."    [Biog TP]

He later became an Honorary Member of Edinburgh Photographic Society and other societies including The Photographic Club and The Camera Club.    [Obit TPP]

1864: He moved from Edinburgh to London and became Editor of the weekly journal, The British Journal of Photography when Shadbolt retired.  He held this position until his death in 1895, except for about one year when he crossed the Atlantic to New York to edit The Photographic Times.

He wrote regularly for the British Journal of Photography on a wide range of photographic topics, particularly optics.

The Practical Photographer reported that the Photographic Convention, held between 1886 and 1931owed its origins to the joint efforts of Messrs Traill Taylor and Briginshaw.    [Obit TPP]

1879:  He moved to America.  He purchased an estate and olive groves, where he lived before returning to London.   [Obit TP]

1886:  He returned to London, and again became Editor of BJP.

The Practical Photographer reported that the Photographic Convention, held between 1886 and 1931owed its origins to the joint efforts of Messrs Traill Taylor and Briginshaw.    [Obit TPP]

Convention - 1892

    Photographic Convention of the UK  -  1892  -  Photographer not known

1895: John Traill Taylor died suddenly of dysentery, on 8 November, while on a short visit to inspect his estate in Florida.  He had intended to retire to Florida at the end of his contract with the British Journal of Photography in March 1996.  
[Obit TP], [Obit TPP

He was survived by three sons and a daughter, two of the sons having strong connections with photography:

-  J Hay Taylor of the Optical Magic Lantern Magazine and

-  A J Taylor, in charge of a department at Harrow Works of Eastman & Co.

[Obit TPP]

A note appeared in the BJP on 6 December 1895, announcing a Meeting to be held at 8pm on 21 December, in Anderton's Hotel, Fleet Street, London, to consider numerous suggestions that had been made to create some form of permanent memorial in recognition of  J Traill Taylor's long and valuable services to photography.    [I have not yet read the result of this meeting.]


[Obit. BJP]  =  Obituary:  British Journal of Photography, 15 November 1895, p.725

[Obit. TPP]  =  Obituary:  The Practical Photographer, December 1895, p.371

[Biog TP]  =  Biography:  The Photogram, March 1895 p.57

[Obit TP]  =  Obituary:  The Photogram, November 1895 p.272

[Obit TP]  =  Obituary:  The Photogram, November 1895 p.272

[Obit TPP] = Obituary:  The Practical Photographer  1895 p.371-2



John Traill Taylor  -  Photograph published in The Photogram  -  1895

J TRAILL TAYLOR:   Timeline     Interests    Journalism    Photography    EPS Lectures

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PORTRAITS of J TRAILL TAYLOR    1859    1890    1895    Carte de Visite   Thumbnails