Photographs taken on board

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Barry Whatton

Dec 12, 2000
A couple of years ago I posted a similar message to this but was very disappointed with the lack of replies. Here goes again!!

In 1912 photography was not exactly in its infancy. I am therefore extremely surprised that no one appeared to have even attempted to take any photographs during the period after the collision with the iceberg. I do accept that this would be the last thing on anyone's mind and there would have been great difficulties hanging on to any photographic plates. However surely there were members of the world's press on board and the thought of such a 'scoop' would have been extremely tempting. Also many of the passengers were extremely wealthy and would have had access to cameras, large as they were. I have read somewhere that someone had overheard a passenger, or crew member, talking about taking photos.

Similarly I am very surprised at the general lack of photographs taken on board during the Titanic's short passage from Southampton to Ireland.
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
I'm afraid the replies you'll get will pretty much be the same. Somebody taking photographs during the sinking on a dark night would have had to use a very powerful flash to get anything useful and that simply would not have escaped notice. (You can bet that any such person would have provoked a hostile response from the crew as well.)

How much testimony is there of anyone doing this?

None whatever.

I'm sure quite a few people took photos during the trip between Southampton and Queenstown, but my bet is that most of the surviving photos are in private hands.

Michael H. Standart
Jan 31, 2001

Passenger Charles Pain thought about photographing Lifeboat No. 8 as it was being lowered. He was going to get his camera when a distress rocket exploded above him, and he and his party crossed over to Lifeboat No. 9. Pain never took the picture. My source is "Titanic: The Canadian Story" by Alan Hustak.



lisagay harrod

I've been doing a little research into photography during the early 20th century. Here's what I've found:

In 1900 Kodak came out with the first "Brownie" camera, based on Frank Brownell's design. It sold for $1.00 and a roll of film cost 15 cents.

In 1904 autochrome (color) was patented by Louis Lumiere. By 1907 the first color photographs were made.

In 1912 Kodak intoduced the first "Vest Pocket Camera".

Flash processes during this time consisted mainly of a small cylindrical canister with a small tray attached to the top. The flash powder (which consisted mostly of magnesium) was tapped into the tray then ignited by flint or taper. This meant that flash had to be sychronized with exposure.

From what I read it seems that this was a rather clumsy procedure that produced alot of smoke/sparks and often fire. Seems a number of labs and studios suffered from fire damage!

My conclusion is that it is highly unlikely that any photos could have been taken the night of the sinking. It's probable that many on board had "Brownies" (as the were made & sold in the millions at the time...they're easily obtainable at any flea market or antique store), but few, if any, were in use that night, I imagine those cameras that were on board went down.

My questions are these:

Does anyone know what kind of camera Father Brown was using?

The "Brownie" of the day was made of tin and aluminum, or a wood/cardboard combination, some models featured a "leatherette" covering.

How would these objects fair under the sea at such great depths?

Any thoughts or opinions?


Lisa Harrod

Nick Lavenice

Feb 22, 2004
Hi Lisa,

I just recently visited the Titanic Museum in Branson Missouri and they had a section that was solely based on Father Browns Photographs. The camera that he used was Kodak's "Vest Pocket Camera." It was very small-- probably a little larger than an average persons hand. It surprised me how small it was! Hope that helps!

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