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Richard Beard

1801 — 1885

Richard Beard was an entrepreneur who profitably established himself in the coal trade in London. With his entrepreneurial spirit, in 1841, he paid Louis Daguerre 150 pounds for a license to use his technology. He set up photography as a business speculation and opened the world's first photographic studio. It was set up in a glasshouse on the roof of London's Royal Polytechnic Institution to provide all-round lighting, which was necessary for the daguerreotype process. Beard is credited with having the people being photographed say "prunes" to get the facial image he wanted. In later years, cheese replaced prunes as it created smiles.

Beard's studio was initially a financial success and in 1841 he obtained the sole patent for daguerreotypes in England, Wales, and the British colonies. In 1850, however, like many operators of photography studios, he went bankrupt because of legal disputes over payment of the license fees required to practice daguerreotypy. However, through his entrepreneurial resources, he continued to sell photographs until 1857, when he passed the business on to his son.

Last Updated on: 2024-02-28