Timothy O’Sullivan, 19th century photographer

Timothy O'Sullivan

Timothy O’Sullivan

Kitchener, August 4, 2013. My oldest daughter, Suzy, reminded me today about this famous Irish-American wet-plate photographer. I was first introduced to O’Sullivan’s beautiful photographs decades ago in the 1970s series of Time-Life books on Photography. 

O’Sullivan practiced his art at a time when the darkroom had to accompany the photographer into the field so plates could be sensitized, exposed, and developed before the emulsion dried. This was a herculean task that damaged the wooden cameras of the day as the wet emulsion dripped down across the wooden camera backs.

O’Sullivan worked in the 1860s and 70s beginning with the American civil war. The images shown here at the Daily Mail site are his work post civil war covering the American west and its indigenous people. In 1882 O’Sullivan finally succumbed to tuberculosis. He was only 42.

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