Photo Friday: Seeing double – cost-effective photography from Keith Medley

20130517 [Keith Medley Double Portrait]Today’s photo Friday is a fascinating double portrait from the Keith Medley Archive that we hold here in the library in our Archives and Special Collections.  The archive consists of over 20,000 glass plate and film negatives donated to LJMU by Keith Medley’s family in 2009, along with the original handwritten ledgers in which the photographic jobs undertaken were recorded.

Keith Medley was a commercial photographer on Merseyside between 1949 and 1987 and he worked out of a studio in Wallasey as a wedding, portrait, commercial and press photographer.  According to the registers this particular pair of photographs was taken on 29 January 1966.  There are many of these ‘dual portraits’ within the collection, and they originate from Medley’s efforts to be cost-effective.  By only exposing half the plate at a time, he was able to produce two portraits from the same negative.  When looked at together like this, the two portraits help us to share their experience of a professional photography studio.  Some of the double negatives are simply portrait photographs, others are passport photographs – you would never be able to smile like that in your passport today!

This image is one of a set of these intriguing double portraits that Keith Medley took between 1965 and 1968 that are being exhibited as part of the LOOK/13 photography festival in Liverpool.  ‘Double Take: Portraits from the Keith Medley Archive’, curated by photographer Ken Grant and Professor of Photography at the University of Wales, Mark Durden, can be viewed at the Walker Art Gallery from today until 15 June.

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