Elder son of John Moffat
Reproduced by courtesy of Edinburgh Photographic Society
The photograph of Frank Pelham Moffat, above,
is a detail from a photograph
EPS Council Members, taken by FP Moffat, himself.
Frank Pelham Moffat (1854-1912) was son of
John Moffat. He
was a well known portrait painter who based his portraits on small photographs,
drawn in charcoal and finished in oil.
He studied photography in France, and joined his
father’s business in 1875.
When Frank P Moffat won
in the 'Cadett' International Prize Competition in1895, he was reported to be
trading as John Moffat, 125 Princes-street, Edinburgh [The
Photogram, Sept 1895, p.211]
Some records show Frank Pelham Moffat's date of birth as being 1853
However, his descendant, John Moffat, and The Photogram (1895,
the date 1854.
The 1881 census described FP Moffat as 'aged 27, living with
Experiments in Photography
Frank Pelham Moffat experimented widely with his
"He was probably the first professional photographer in Scotland to
discard the wet plate process.”
"He later took up colour photography, but found this not to be a
commercial success. His
process was 'Portraits
by three colour carbon'.”
He produced a series of mezzotint style prints
of the Orkney Islands.
At an Edinburgh Photographic Society
Meeting, held on 3 February 1897, F P Moffat spoke in favour of the
gelatino-chloride matt paper, and described his own use of it.
Edinburgh Photographic Society
Frank Pelham Moffat gave many
lectures to EPS:
Plates in the Studio"
and Plates - Rapid and Instantaneous"
"Discussion on Printing Papers: Gelatino-Chloride"
Few Thoughts on Photography in Colour"
"A Summer Holiday in Orkney"
"The Convention at Perth"
Frank Pelham Moffat became:
- President of EPS, 1896-7
- President of Professional
Photographers’ Association, 1911-12.
photograph of EPS Office Bearers that was reproduced on the back of the Menu
for the EPS 3rd Annual Dinner in 1903.
He was Secretary of the EPS Golf Club in 1903.
Professional Photographers' Association
Frank Pelham Moffat was President of the Professional Photograhers'
Association in 1911. He hosted the Association's Annual Dinner on
18 May 1911. George E Brown, editor of the British Journal of
Photography looked back on the ten years since the Association's
foundation and said:
"Photographers at that time, and during the period which had elapsed,
has been harassed in various ways - by the 'soap' and 'cigarette'
enlargements, by the introduction of the picture postcard which had done
incalculable harm in giving a false impression of the cost of a
photographic portrait, and by the fraudulent canvasser with his 'free'
In the face of these challenges, the Association had continued to
thrive. FP Moffat reported that in the past two years, its
membership had increased by over 300.
2 Jun 1911]
The journal, The Photogram,
in 1895, gives an interesting account of Frank Pelham Moffat's early involvement
in his father's studio:
"The late John Moffat of Edinburgh was
recognised as one of our leaders in the earlier days, and his son has not
lowered the standard of the business.
Born in 1854, the year after his father
began business, Mr FP Moffat was placed for a few years in a merchant's office
to learn business habits before joining his father in 1875 at the age of 21.
He took to photography with enthusiasm,
read everything obtainable upon the subject, and dipped into the practical
mysteries of the silver bath, of which he took charge until its banishment in
He learnt what art was taught at the
Edinburgh school of design, and imbibed further art training from his father's
friends amongst the painters and sculptors, and especially from his father in
law, Mr John Rhind ARSA, the subject in 'The
In 1883-84, John Moffat gradually retired
from the active control of the business, and by his death in March 1894, his son
was left sole owner.
He insists on being the operator at every
sitting, for he believes 'if you want a thing done well, attend to it yourself'.
He has recently installed one of Adamson's
electric lamps, and we shall be interested to see some results of the use of the
took over the Moffat business following his father’s death. In 1895, he enlarged and improved the studio at 125 Princes
Electric incandescent light was installed for portraiture, but later this was
discarded in favour of the arc lamp.
Frank Pelham Moffat died in 1914, probably of pneumonia, after catching “a bad chill”
while photographing the opening of the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.
Meeting of Edinburgh Photographic Society on 1 April 1914 at which he was
due to deliver a lecture on Child Photography was cancelled.
Frank Pelham Moffat's obituary appeared in the Transactions of the
Edinburgh Photographic Society, written by A E (presumably
A E Moffat). Frank Pelham Moffat was described as having died
suddenly of heart failure after little more than a fortnight's illness.
He had been the senior partner in the photographic firm, John Moffat of
Princes Street, taking over from his father. He was elected President of
the Professional Photographers' Association of Great Britain and, twice,
President of Edinburgh Photographic Society where he was remembered for the
support and advice he gave to others.
Frank Pelham Moffat enjoyed both portrait and landscape photography. He
had been awarded the highest awards at Royal Photographic Society and Edinburgh
Photographic Society Exhibitions and the Page Prize of £100.
[Transactions of Edinburgh
Photographic Society; April 1914, pp. 10-11]
Frank Pelham Moffat's funeral took place at Morningside Cemetery, attended by
many members of Edinburgh Photographic Society and members of the Professional
Photographers' Association, a society of which he was Secretary for seven years.
[Transactions of Edinburgh
Photographic Society; April 1914, p.12]