John Kirk, photographer

john kirk

John Kirk is famous for many reasons. For being Livingstone’s deputy, for being instrumental in ending the slave trade in Zanzibar.

But in 1854, he was none of these things. He was a newly qualified doctor who volunteered for the Crimean war. He already had some expertise in photography

john kirk arbirlot

and as a doctor, he naturally had access to chemicals, and  began to document what he saw. Unlike Roger Fenton, he was not an official photographer, but an amateur.

Doubtless he did photographs of his compatriots but the main interest in his photographs is what he photographed for his own use


The hospital and army camp, the prefabricated hospital buildings


and the inside of the wards


Kirk wasn’t the only unofficial photographer – there was James Robertson and Felice Beato, and doubtless others whose work has not survived – early photographs were incredibly fragile – but Kirk’s photographs are incredibly valuable as he used photography to document the medical facilities in the Crimea.

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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