The Hardmans' Staff Exhibition

A sample of the re-touching work done by Hardmans' staff

Staff and volunteers at the Hardmans' House create special exhibitions for the Discovery Room which illuminate some of the lives behind the lens at the studio and former home of Edward Chambré Hardman. Between March and October this year, the exhibition provides a fascinating glimpse into what it was like to work at the Burrell & Hardman Photographic Studio, with memories from staff and an insight into the roles they each played. The exhibition runs until 28 October and is part of your guided tour.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, the photographic studios on Bold Street, Rodney Street and in Chester had over 50 staff members working in varied roles from the office cleaner to more specialist roles such as the photographic colourist. Analogue photography is a far more lengthy process than the fast-paced digital cameras we have today. The post-process after the photograph had been taken could take weeks before a final print was issued to the sitter. The staff's hard work was therefore integral to the smooth running of the business, and many pairs of hands would do their bit in producing the perfect portraits the business was known for. It wasn’t only the staff who did their bit, as even Bick, their dog, had a role to play and he would entertain children who were waiting to have their own portrait taken. He would even model on occasion!

Amongst the objects and photographs in the exhibits you will find quirky and interesting stories about the staff.  One of the displays also explores the challenges of achieving the the perfect results expected by the studio’s clientele. Before the days of Photoshop, despite Hardman’s finesse with a camera and the editing and retouching that went on behind the scenes, there were occasional complaints. One of the most humorous letter comes from a Lord who was very particular and proud of his moustache, and adamant that it was to be perfect in his portrait.

From Street to Studio

We’re continuing to show our fabulous exhibition From Street to Studio, an exploration of the work of Edward Chambré Hardman which documented the streets of Liverpool. Although the studio was renowned for its excellent portrait work both, Edward and Margaret Hardman loved to wander the streets of Liverpool to capture everyday life. They would often venture out to shoot landscapes and shoot portraits outside the studio using natural light, some of which can be seen as original prints in our exhibition space at the Hardmans’ House.