Romantic Camera | Scottish Photography & the Modern World

  • 1st December 2011 − 3rd June 2012 | Scottish National Portrait Gallery


The trauma of the First and Second World Wars had a profound impact on photography as the medium became harnessed to innovative technologies of surveillance and propaganda. Returning from the frontline, more men than ever before had been trained in the use of cameras. New forms of romantic visualisation appeared, such as Captain Alfred Buckham’s aerial landscapes, conveying a special poignancy in an era of mechanised slaughter.

The 1920s and 1930s were also terrible decades for the Scottish countryside as economic downturn led to a renewed wave of rural clearances. However, this did little to disrupt the dominant vision of Scotland as ‘the land of the mountain and the flood’, a simplistic idea further entrenched by the centralisation of media power in London. At the same time, the rise of 35mm film and the compact camera meant that photographic technologies were now cheaper and more mobile: photography became integral to the leisure experiences of all classes. Scots were increasingly able to visualise themselves, often at play, against the backdrop of a (newly depopulated) national landscape.

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