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Roger Fenton (1819–69)

Roger Fenton, born in Lancashire, trained initially as a lawyer then as an artist before taking up photography in 1852. Over the next ten years, he undertook several extensive journeys with his camera. Fenton worked in a variety of genres, producing portraits, still life, architecture, landscape and documentary photographs.

In addition to his photographic practice, Fenton was instrumental in founding the Photographic Society of London in 1853. It was through the society that Fenton first met Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, at an exhibition of the Photographic Society in January 1854. Shortly afterwards he was asked to go to Buckingham Palace to photograph the royal family. Many commissions followed between 1854 and 1856, including a journey to Balmoral to photograph the royal children and the newly rebuilt castle.

Fenton was already an accomplished and respected photographer when he was sent by the publishers Agnew's to photograph the Crimean War. Arriving several months after the major battles were fought in 1854, Fenton focused on creating moving portraits of the troops, as well as capturing the stark, empty battlefields on which so many lost their lives. Published in contemporary newspaper reports, Fenton's photographs showed the impact of war to the general public for the first time.  In 1862, he retired from photography completely and returned to his first profession in the law.