DU CAMP, Maxime

b. 8 February 1822; d. 9 February 1894

Du Camp was a French writer and journalist who travelled in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. He had a simple reason for taking up photography, as he recalled later:

"I had realised on my previous travels that I wasted much valuable time trying to draw buildings and scenery I did not care to forget... I felt I needed an instrument of precision to record my impressions..."

He learned photography from Gustave Le Gray, and his calotypes started appearing from 1851. His book, "Le Nil, Egypte et Nubie", containing 220 calotypes, was one of the first to be illustrated with original photographs.

Travel photography then, unlike today, one had to approach with something verging on missionary zeal. Do Camp once commented:

"Learning photography is an easy matter. Transporting the equipment by mule, camel or human porters is a serious problem."

Though he is perhaps the earliest of the travel photographers, du Camp's work is less striking than that of another contemporary, Francis Frith.

© Robert Leggat, 1999.