Hardman’s chronotypes

Edward Chambré Hardman was a commercial studio photographer, who handily collected and indexed his work over a period of 40 years, and it has now been made available in digital form as an archival resource. As sitters often came back more than once for a photograph of themselves, this has allowed archival researchers to co-locate images of the same person, sitting in roughly the same position over a period of time, known as chronotypology. In his Lecture on Portraiture, he announced

To make fine portraits by photography, one must never lose sight of the ultimate aim, which is to produce a characteristic likeness or expression of the sitter’s personality.(From OCA coursebook, p31)

Given that each of his subjects sits against a plain background, without accessories, the only information the viewer is given in the face, clothing and demeanour, but using only these, Hardman was able to produce work which did give a clear sense of personality. Compare these with the annual school photos we are all used to seeing, and one can see that Hardman was is a different class (pun intended).


Ulrich Baer’s classification of archival studies indicates that there are three main ways of using it,

  1. fabricated or constructed work
  2. the archive of the unremembered
  3. the archive’s redemption as new life

Hardman’s work seems to fall roughly into the second category. We see the effects that time have wrought on his sitters, many of whom were soldiers who in the gap between sittings had experienced the realities of war. A modern interpretation of the same idea is Lalage Snow’s series We are Not The Dead, which takes a set of three photographs of soldiers, before, during and after their deployment to Afghanistan. (Oddly in these, most of the soldiers look most at peace during their deployment, rather than before or after).

Lalage Snow wearenot dead

Screenshot from:


I have the facility to produce a chronotype from my own family archive, so here are three images of my paternal grandmother in 1926, 1956 and 1993. The quality is not great, but one gets the idea.

Of course, I only recall her as she was in the last image.


Baer, Ulrich (2008). ‘Deep in the Archive’ In: Aperture 193, Winter 2008, p. 54-58 [Online]. Available at: http://issues.aperture.org/20080404#!/54 (Accessed 7 August, 2016)


6 thoughts on “Hardman’s chronotypes

  1. Kate

    In the true spirit of wishing my course away I am really enjoying your posts on this module. I’m intrigued by the chronotype and fascinated by the Hardman Archive. Did you see the video of Keith Roberts presentation on it at the OCA Photography Matters symposium? (the link is in the first paragraph here – https://kateastoneyv.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/photography-matters-videos/ ). If I remember correctly a couple of people have done series on soldiers before, during and after deployment too, that’s on weareoca somewhere.


  2. Catherine

    I certainly get the idea of chronotypes and, like Kate, am finding your posts so interesting and very relevant to Part 2 of my own Module. I get the impression that your own archive is much more comprehensive than mine.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Catherine

        It’s on the archive and the found image in digital culture. I’m sure the work you’re doing now will be invaluable for you when you come to Level 2.


  3. Pingback: In search of my mojo | Holly's OCA I&P Blog

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