BL-n087 is a photograph of a photographer taking a photograph. You may be able to identify the photographer at work, if you recognise the photograph he probably took here: a scene including a human corpse and battle debris – the aftermath of an engagement, at a makeshift earthworks fort, taken during or just after the Boxer Uprising. One can imagine the hot pungent working conditions of this unidentified proto-photojournalist.
It is possible that the photographer operating the large view camera on a tripod (see BL-n088, a detail of BL-n087) is the American James Ricalton, who “was widely acclaimed as one of the most important (certainly most popular) photographers of his time.” (Source: ‘James Ricalton’s Photographs of China during the Boxer Rebellion’ by Christopher J. Lucas)? Ricalton took many stereoscope photographs in China in 1900, published by Underwood and Underwood.
BL-n087 is a copy of a photograph, made on a glass plate negative – and is one of a set of 59 negatives, being photographs of various items assembled and then copied on a copy stand with a dry plate camera, possibly in about 1902-15, that together illustrate the story of the siege of the Legations in Peking (June-August 1900). The items copied include photographs from at least two different albums, also unmounted photographs (including some by Reverend Charles Killie), notes and letters sent during the siege by Claude Macdonald, Colonel Shiba, Herbert Squires, Admiral Sir Edward A. Seymour and General Alfred Gaseley, and a plan of Peking and other printed magazine illustrations (from the Royal Engineers Journal and the Illustrated London News), and also the diners signatures on back of a menu for a ‘Lest We Forget’ dinner. It can be surmised that this narrative set was created to make prints for exhibition, or to illustrate a publication. The glass negatives are in a wooden box at the Billie Love Historical Collection picture library.
For a lighter set of pictures of photographers at work, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/20939975@N04/3135648340/in/set-72157603425770983/