John Thomson

Professional Photographer

John Thomson was born in Edinburgh in 1808 or 1809.  He became a Daguerreotypist professional photographer from 1848 until 1875.  

He might, in fact, have been started about three years earlier.  There was a McMillan & Thomson Daguerreotype Portrait Gallery at 19 Princes Street, 1845-46.

John Thomson was a partner in Ross & Thomson, with studios at 90 Princes Street,1848-64.

At the time of the 1851 Census, John Thomson was living at 90 Princes Street with his wife, children aged 4yrs, 2 yrs, 1yr and 3 months, and a domestic servant.

John Thomson was a PSS Member from 1858 until the society was wound up in 1873.

PSS Exhibition.

He exhibited a coloured collodion print on gypsum in the  3rd PSS Exhibition, held in December 1858.

He joined EPS in 1867 and became EPS President,1874-76.


John Thomson FRGS

Travels to London

Do not confuse John Thomson, above, with another Edinburgh photographer with the same name. - John Thomson FRGS  (1837-1921)  -  who was also a member of PSS.  

He photographed London street life. His work has featured in exhibitions in the 1990s at:

-  National Library of Scotland.

-  Royal Scottish Academy:  'Light from the Dark Room'.

However, at no time did he run a professional photography business in Edinburgh.

Travels Abroad

I originally mentioned in the note above that John Thomson travelled with his camera to Africa, but I've now removed this reference after having received an email from Dr Howard Scott.

Dr Scott wrote:

"John Thomson certainly photographed ‘London Street Life’ but his studios out of the UK were in Singapore and Hong Kong and he is best known for his work in Cambodia and China.

I don’t think he photographed in Africa, and if he did his fame is not due to those photos."

Dr Howard Scott, China:  June 15, 2008




A & D Thomson

John Thomson

Laurence S Thomson

Norman Thomson

Peter Thomson

Robert Kemp Thomson

RK Thomson & Co

Thomson Brothers

Cabinet Print

Carte de Visite

Tribute to John

Postcard Portrait