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World’s first combat photojournalist

The world’s first combat photographer is considered to be Carol Popp de Szathmari (1812-1887). He had decided to take his camera into the battlefield, using a wagon he had specifically made to fit a dark room into it. He would process glass plates with wet collodion.

[Crimean War: Turkish Artillery. (1854)]

He would photograph the various troops and their commanding officers, of both Russian and Turkish armies. He had exhibited all of his photos and had bond them in a book at the Paris WorldExposition in 1855. His album was much praised and he was present with many awards as Szathmari’s photographs were the first photographic image of war (prior to Roger Fenton‘s photographs a year later).

[Crimean War: Turkish artillery Officers. (1854)] 

Szathmari had offered his works to Queen Victoria and to Emperor Napoleon III as well as other royalties. Unfortunately, none of his works can be seen to this day as none of his albums had survived, yet his name does live on. The album which was in Queen Victoria’s procession was burned in 1912 during a fire at Windsor Castle.

Szathmari was born on 11th January 1812 in Cluj, Kolozsvar (Romania).  He was of noble descent and had studied former as a painter before becoming a passionate traveller. This is most probable that he had acquired his need to capture events around him from his travels.

[Crimean War: Russian volunteers (from Bulgaria)(1854)]

It was by 1848, when he had begun to experiment with photography. With the outbreak of the Russian -Ottoman War in late June 1853, there were many generals and other high ranking officials who came to be immortalised in photograph. He had made many acquaintances like this. It was in April 1854 when he had filled a wagon with his camera and glass plates and headed for the Danube border to record the fight between the Russian and Turkish armies.

Not only was he awarded many awards for his photographs, but he also had exhibitions and many publications in magazines and newspapers of his work.

Szathmari had worked with photography, painting and lithography in his career.

[All information was gathered from two websites as well as the Royal Collection].

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