According to Triggs:

The technical limitations of photography also made it impossible to photograph a group of three or four hundred people dressed in snowshoe costumes on Mount Royal, to supply, transport and arrange posing stands for each one, and expect to create a dynamic composition with everybody in sharp focus and looking their best. But in the controlled conditions of the studio, where each person was photographed individually with a posing stand at the head to prevent movement, a clear portrait with a pleasing expression and a good pose was guaranteed. Photographing even a small group, such as a family, indoors in a single picture was impossible. Most families wanted their own living-room or parlour as a setting for the family group, but the exposure to record the room would have been up to an hour long at least. Therefore a photograph of the room only was taken, enlarged, and the figures added later.   (1)

The image referred to below appears to have been lost; however, the story about its creation is certainly interesting.

For one of Notman’s most famous composites:

It was a busy time at William Notman’s studio at the foot of Bleury Street in the winter of 1878. Over a period of several weeks there was an unusually large flow of well-known citizens to and from the studio, some arriving in fine sleighs drawn by matched teams, harness and fittings immaculately polished, others in rented sleighs with hardy drivers wrapped in buffalo coats, while still others made the visit an opportunity for a brisk walk through the snowy streets of Montreal. Among them were such notables as Sir John A. Macdonald, Canadian Prime Minister, and his wife Lady Agnes; Lord Dufferin, Governor-General of Canada, with Lady Dufferin; Sir Hugh Allan, founder of the Allan Steamship Lines; Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt, politician, diplomat and industrial promoter; John Popham, advocate and Commissioner for Ontario and Quebec and the lower provinces; Matthew Hamilton Gault, President of the Exchange Bank of Canada; the Reverend Jacob Ellegood, Canon of Christ Church Cathedral and rector of St. James the Apostle Church; Alex McGibbon, prominent Montreal grocer .  (2)

The image referred to above appears to have been lost; however, the story about its creation is certainly interesting.


Why not write an analysis of any of the Notman prints you see on this site, or of any other Notman prints you may own, or know about  –  and post it here?  The  William Notman Photographic Society Site Moderator will add your text and image to the  site.

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