Who took the photographs? 2

A good source of contemporary photographs of Shanghai and its doings between 1906 and 1914, is the journal Social Shanghai; and other parts of China, edited by Mina Shorrock.

In volume 3 there is an article about the Shanghai photographic firm of Denniston and Sullivan. It is sometimes assumed that photographs in a historic album will all have been taken by its original compiler, but as we have discussed before, they are often compiled from images purchased, or otherwise acquired, and commissioned, as well as taken by the compiler or their family. The Social Shanghai article has two rather telling illustrations on this theme. In the first, below, is a display of ‘Souvenirs of Shanghai’ for residents and visitors to browse through and purchase — and perhaps later paste into their albums.

Denniston and Ross display 1

Denniston and Ross display of Shanghai postcards and photographs, from Social Shanghai, volume 3, 1907.

Junks, arched bridges, pagodas at Jiashing, city gates, the Huxingting Tea House in Shanghai and the city’s Nanjing road, can all be spotted and, bottom right, the Hangzhou Bore. We have some of these photographs on our site.

The second illustration tells us a little more about the interests of local residents, perhaps, for it can never be assumed that they are really very interested in the city in which they live. Denniston and Ross caters for them as well: its customers want photographs of famous foreign actresses. They have many to choose from.

Actresses for Shanghai, from Social Shanghai, volume 3, 1907.

Actresses for Shanghai, from Social Shanghai, volume 3, 1907.

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