Roger Taylor (photographic historian)

Professor Emeritus Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor (photographic historian).jpg
Born (1940-10-31) 31 October 1940 (age 82)
OccupationPhotographic history

Roger Taylor, MVO born 1940, is a curator, photographic historian, and educator specialising in nineteenth century British photography and its social and cultural history. He is Professor Emeritus of Photographic History at De Montfort University.[1]

Early life and education[]

Roger Taylor was born on 31 October 1940 in Stockport, Cheshire, England. He attended Stockport Grammar School from 1946 to 1951 and King's School, Macclesfield, between 1951 and 1957. After leaving school, in 1957 Taylor was apprenticed to Rex Lowden, an industrial and commercial photographer in Manchester, where he was formally trained in photography, taking City & Guilds evening classes at Manchester College of Science and Technology between 1957 and 1960.[2]

His education continued at Derby College of Art where he joined the college in 1966, initially as a technician and part-time lecturer prior to taking the final year of the course. In 1967 he secured a First Class Diploma in Creative Photography, and this led to his appointment as full-time lecturer at Sheffield School of Art where he remained until 1983. During his tenure he progressed to senior lecturer and finally, in 1981, Director of Studies for the BA [Hons] Fine Art course.[3]

Encouraged by the urban historian Jim Dyos, Taylor took a sabbatical to attend the post-graduate course in Victorian Studies at Leicester University, in 1974 to 1976.[4] This experience fundamentally shaped his approach to photographic history. He gained a MA in Victorian Studies in 1977 for his thesis on George Washington Wilson.

It was during his time at Sheffield and Leicester that Taylor began to develop his interest in photographic history and in 1983 he became an associate lecturer as this allowed him to work independently as a freelance curator, notably for The Royal Collection and the Howard and Jane Ricketts Collection.[5]

As the series or for World Microfilms Publications between 1978 and 1981, he was closely involved with the development of a number of early research resources in photographic history. Taylor encouraged the inclusion of 19th century photographic journals, scientific texts, and significant collections of photographs. These were microfilmed and made commercially available, principally to academic institutions throughout the world, where they underpinned a whole generation of research.[6]

Curatorial and academic career[]

In 1985 he was appointed as the Curator of the Kodak Museum,[7] at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, now the National Science and Media Museum, in Bradford.[8] During his tenure Taylor was instrumental in the acquisition of several important collections, including Tony Ray Jones;[9] Andor Kraszna-Krausz;[10] George Rodger, Photographic Advertising Ltd, and the Zoltan Glass Archive.[11] In 1990 he was made Senior Curator of Photographs and Head of Research Development.

Following early retirement in 1996 Taylor devoted his attention to the evolution of early photography in Britain, and was awarded a number research fellowships and scholarships in America and Canada in support of this. In 2002, he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, became a professor in 2005, and Emeritus in 2009. During his time at De Montfort he ed three online research resources for photographic historians.[12]

As an independent advisor Taylor was invited to help secure the future of three collections for the public domain: the Fay Godwin collection, for the British Library in 2007;[13] The Talbot Collection for the British Library in 2009;[14] and the Kodak Research Library, for De Montfort University library's Special Collections in 2009.[15]

Drawing on his museum and curatorial experience Taylor also served in a number of specialist advisory roles. These include membership of the Bodleian Library's Talbot Catalogue Raisonné advisory board.[16]

Taylor has written extensively on the social history of Victorian photography, and curated exhibitions in nineteenth century photography.

Awards and fellowships[]

He was awarded the J. Dudley Johnson Award for sustained contribution to the field of photographic history by the Royal Photographic Society in 2007.[17] In 2010 he was invited as Edmund J. Safra Visiting Professor at CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington.[18] The University of Derby awarded him an Hon DFA in 2014.[19] He was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) 'for services to the Royal Collection' in the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours list. [20]

Other projects and activities[]

As a personal project in 2009 Taylor was involved with establishing ‘The Gallery on the Green’ in a refurbished British Telecom telephone box in Settle, North Yorkshire.[21] As a curator of the gallery, he attracted a wide range of contributors, including well-known photographers and collectors.

Selected publications[]


Articles and papers[]

Photographic history resources[]

Curated exhibitions[]


  1. ^ "Photographic History Research Centre staff members". Photographic History Research Centre. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  2. ^ Barnes, Martin (16 December 2001). "Roger Taylor interviewed by Martin Barnes". British Library. Retrieved 22 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Our History - Sheffield Hallam University". Sheffield Hallam University.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "The Victorian Studies Centre at 50 · Leicester Special Collections".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Ricketts Collection of photographs, equipment and ephemera. Accessed 25 September 2020
  6. ^ World Microfilms Publications Ltd,, Accessed 22 September 2020.
  7. ^ Michael Pritchard, 'Kodak Museum in Bradford', [interview with Roger Taylor], British Journal of Photography, 7 March 1986, pp. 272-274, 291.
  8. ^ Margaret Harker, 'Photography for all', British Journal of Photography, 23 March 1989, pp. 13-15
  9. ^ An important photographic archive. Accessed 25 September 2020.
  10. ^ Andor Kraszna Krausz. Accessed 25 September 2020
  11. ^ Zoltan Glass. Accessed 25 September 2020
  12. ^ Links to more photographic history websites Accessed 22 September 2020
  13. ^ The Fay Godwin Collection. Accessed 25 September 2020
  14. ^ Talbot Collection. Accessed 25 September 2020
  15. ^ Kodak Ephemera Collection. Accessed 25 September 2020.
  16. ^ The Talbot Catalogue Raisonné advisory board. Advisory Board. Accessed 28 september 2020.
  17. ^ "J Dudley Johnston Medal". The Royal Photographic Society. Retrieved 22 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professors, 2003–". National Gallery of Art.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "Honorary graduates". University of Derby.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ The Royal Victorian Order. Professor Emeritus Roger James TAYLOR. Accessed 10 October 2020
  21. ^ "A Very Brief History of the Gallery on the Green, Settle". Gallery On The Green. Retrieved 22 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)