David Octavius Hill & Robert Adamson Robert Adamson, 1821 - 1848. Calotypist [b] 1843 - 1847


Born 1821
Died 1848
Nationality Scottish
Birth place Scottish
Death place Saint Andrews

Robert Adamson was one of the first professional photographers, setting up in business in Edinburgh in March 1843. He had aspired to be an engineer but his health was too poor. His brother, John, who was involved in the early experiments with photography in St Andrews, taught him the calotype process. Shortly after opening his studio on Calton Hill, Robert met the painter David Octavius Hill. They worked together for a few weeks on studies for a grand painting of the Free Church of Scotland before entering into partnership to explore the possibilities of photography. Despite Adamson's early death, the two produced some of the most impressive works taken in the medium and greatly influenced later practice in the art.

Glossary terms

Glossary terms

Documentary photography

A style of photographs that presents straightforward records of events, people and places, often recording important historical or political moments.


A nineteenth century movement among photographers who explored the artistic potential of the new technology, looking to paintings for stylistic models.