Notman Society Founder, Lewko Hryhorijiw writes:

  • Photography expanded people’s view of the world beyond their own neighbourhoods.
  • Canada, a young nation, was expanding and photographers were there to record expanding boundaries.
  • Far-away places and strange new vistas were captured.
  • The Rockey Mountains were now as close as the nearest Notman Studio.

Notman created a large number of Scenic photographs:

“Within five years of opening, Notman was able to publish a twenty-two page catalogue, […]Victoria Bridge, Niagara Falls, Principal Cities and Places of Interest Throughout Canada, listing 567 views available for purchase at his studio that covered sites from the town of London in Canada West to the Saguenay River in Canada East. Views of the human-built  elements of the industrial sectors of British America – the mills and factories of the hinterlands and the cities, the transportation lines between the two, the engineering spectacle of the  Victoria Bridge, and business, civic, and residential buildings of Montreal and Quebec City – share space in the Notman sales catalogue with stereographs of the North American continent’s scenic wonders: Niagara Falls, the Hudson River, the Saguenay River. In the absence of a   picture book filing system prior to the carte-de-visite imperative, the view catalogue stands as a record of what the Notman studio produced with the goal of multiple sales 16James Hodges, Construction of the Great Victoria Bridge in Canada (London: John Weale, 1860).  to the public between 1856 and 1861.”  (1)

William Notman, Collection of Lewko Hryhorijiw

William Notman, Collection of Lewko Hryhorijiw

Brief Photo Analysis of the Picture Directly Above:

The image is entirely cocooned within a frame of white mist or spray from the waterfalls.  It appears as if the viewer is looking through a window at the water shrouded in mystery.   The image is vertical and all the lines within the image are vertical.  Including the water, the striated rocks and the trees reflected in reverse in the pool of water below.  This creates a unity  – the repetition and parallelism of the vertical lines.

The white softness of the edges of the shapes  within the photograph cause the eye to follow the flow of the water as it cascades down to the dark pool at the bottom.  Looking at the top of the image it is flat and uncontrasted; however, as the eye tracks downward it discovers a great contrast at the bottom creating an exciting and surprising 3D effect.


(1)  Skidmore, Colleen Marie.  Women in Photography at the Notman Studio,Montreal, 1856-1881. A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of PhilosophyDepartment of Sociology Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Edmonton, Alberta Fa11 1999.


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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