The Viney Agency


Roger WatsonRoger Watson was born in rural Tennessee and spent his childhood and youth in Detroit. Roger attended Michigan State University where he received a BA in Communications and later a Fine Arts degree in Photographic Arts where he first encountered the history of photography. He began his museum career at the Kresge Art Museum during his last year of studying, staying on for seven years as Chief Assistant to the museum’s director. It was here that he curated his first exhibitions of photographs. After several years of consulting work with various private and institutional collections he returned to the museum world working at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York under the direction of Grant Romer, a world authority on the history of early photography. During his time there Roger curated several exhibitions, wrote numerous articles for photo history journals and helped create the Historic Process Workshops which revived 19th century photographic practices.

Since 2000, Roger has been at the Fox Talbot Museum in the village of Lacock in Wiltshire. Originally there to catalogue the archive of images and manuscript material left by William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the inventors of photography he was also appointed Corresponding Editor for the Talbot Transcription Project based first at University of Glasgow and now at DeMontfort University. In 2007 he was appointed curator of the museum and has overseen the revival of the museum’s exhibition program and brought the Historic Process Workshops to their new home in Lacock.

Roger has acted as an advisor to both Christies and Sotheby’s and consulted for a number of institutional and private collections, his expertise in the early years of photography has made him a sought after speaker. He has written scholarly articles and essays on preservation of early images and on the reception of photography in antebellum America.

Roger lives on a farm in rural Wiltshire and is currently working with the town of Bry-sur-Marne, the home town of Louis Daguerre, on a series of exhibitions and events for 2014 to celebrate the 175th birthday of photography’s announcement, bringing together the homes and museums of the two founders of photography, Fox Talbot and Daguerre for the first time in celebration of the art that changed the world.

His Capturing the Light – The Birth of Photography (with Helen Rappaport) was published in 2013.

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Helen Rappaport
The story of two lone geniuses and the extraordinary race to invent photography.

At the heart of Capturing the Light, there lies a small scrap of purple-tinged paper, over 170 years old and about the size of a postage stamp. On it you can just make out a tiny, ghostly image – an image so small and perfect that ‘it might be supposed to be the work of some Lilliputian artist’; the world’s first photographic negative.

This captivating book traces the true story of two very different men in the 1830s, both striving to solve one of the world’s oldest problems: how to capture an image, and keep it for ever. On the one hand there is Henry Fox Talbot, a quiet, solitary gentleman-amateur scientist, tinkering away on his estate in the English countryside; on the other, Louis Daguerre: a flamboyant, charismatic French scenery-painter, showman and entrepreneur in search of fame and fortune.

Both men invented methods of photography that would enable ordinary people, for the first time in history, to illustrate their own lives and leave something behind of their passing. Photography would transform art, the documentation of both war and peace, and become so natural and widespread that now, each of us carries a camera everywhere with us, and takes this most magical of processes for granted.

Only one question remains: which man got there first?

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Capturing the Light (with Roger Watson. Macmillan, UK 2013; St Martin’s Press, USA 2013).