"Although there is some indication that John
Humphrey was taking wet plate photographs in the late 1850s, both
for albumen paper printing and for ambrotypes, he was first listed
in the 1861 Kilmarnock Census as a ‘lithographer'.
This was a trade he probably learned from his
brother-in-law John Watson, husband of his sister Mary. John Watson
was established as a lithographer and copper-plate printer in
Kilmarnock by 1852.
The 1868 Kilmarnock Post Office Directory
listed him as a Lithographic Printer and Engraver, but by the time
of the 1871 Kilmarnock census he was described as a “Photographic
Artist”. He moved back and forth between Glasgow & Kilmarnock
at least a couple of times.
The 1881 census for Govan again described him
as a Lithographic Printer. John Humphrey’s son, John Gemmell
Humphrey, briefly worked for John Watson as a photographer in
Glasgow around 1887-8, before moving to Wick
Although you don’t mention it, equally
interesting is the evolution, certainly in Kilmarnock, from calico printing to
photography. John Humphrey’s father and two of his uncles were calico
printers, and he was himself a “tear-boy” – apprentice calico printer – by the
age of 11.
Two of his brothers also started as calico printers before that
trade began to die out in the mid-19th Century. One of his big
competitors in Kilmarnock, Adam McGregor, also came to the photography
business by way of calico printing."
John Humphrey, July 2004