Monday’s Photography Inspiration – Félix Bonfils

Félix Bonfils was a French photographer and writer born in 1831. He was one of the first commercial photographers to produce images of the Middle East on a large scale and amongst the first to employ a new method of colour photography, developed in 1880.

Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century
Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century
Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century

Félix worked as a bookbinder but in 1860 he joined General d’Hautpoul’s expedition to the Levant. Soon after returning from Lebanon he became a photographer.

In 1857, he married Marie-Lydie Cabanis. When his son, Adrien, fell ill, Félix remembered the green hills around Beirut and sent him there to recover, being accompanied by Félix’s wife. The family moved to Beirut in 1867 where they opened a photographic studio called “Maison Bonfils”.

Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century
Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century
Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century

Maison Bonfils produced thousands of photographs of the Middle East. He worked with both his wife and his son. Their studio became “F. Bonfils et Cie” in 1878. They photographed posed scenes, dressed up in Middle Eastern regalia, and also stories from the Bible. Bonfils took photographs in Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Greece and Constantinople (now Istanbul). While Bonfils produced the vast majority of his work, it is known that his wife, Lydie also made some of the studio portraits, especially those of Middle Eastern women, who were more inclined to pose for a female photographer.

Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century

Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century

Bonfils was amongst the first photographers to employ the new technique of Photochrom, a photographic colour printing technique, developed in 1880.

Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century

Photo by Félix Bonfils, 19th Century
pammyv02

I am a photographer currently living in London. Most of my work is in black and white because which I've found to be the best outlet to express myself. With patience a rather unique way of seeing the beauty around me, I enjoy creating a world that is unique to me.

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