James Delaney

Street Photographer

Thank you to Mike Delaney for sending me the details below.

Mike wrote:

Artist and Photographer

Edinburgh and Fife

"My great-great-grandfather, James Delaney, was born in Edinburgh (probably St Mary's Wynd) around 1840.  He was an artist in Edinburgh in the late-1850s.  He married in Dunfermline in 1859, describing himself as an artist.  I believe that he was at drawing school there.

By 1860, he was back in Edinburgh , describing himself as artist-photographer.  Later, he seems to have dropped the Ďartistí part.

I suppose it was a logical step to make, but I wondered how expensive it was to buy the equipment at the time and how those who made the switch were trained.  Was it just trial and error.

At the time of the 1861 census, he was working in Pittenweem, Fife,  presumably while travelling around.

Edinburgh and Fife

He seems to have gone to England in the mid- to late-1870s, after living in Edinburgh for most of that decade.  He died in Wigan in 1888, while still working as a photographer.

I have a couple of photos of family members which he seems to have taken in his home. I havenít come across any studio shots, but I know he travelled around Scotland and England.

I suspect he would have been a street photographer, but are there any sources where I could check this out?"

Mike Delaney, Edinburgh,  January 29+31, 2008

What else is known about James Delaney?

By the 1860s, photography had become far more affordable than a decade earlier.  Many more photographers were beginning to set up their own studios.

There were only about 15 photographic studios in Edinburgh in 1855, but the number had increased to almost 60 by the end of the 1860s.

Costs would be lower for street photographers, as they would not incur the expenses of running a studio.

Street photographer tended not to be listed in old trade directories and not to feature in the Press, so it can be difficult to discover details about these photographers, other than tracing individuals through census records, birth, death, marriage records, etc.

However, if you do know anything more about James Delaney, please email me then I'll pass on your message to Mike Delaney.

Thank you.     Peter Stubbs, January 30, 2008


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