See Images from the World’s Oldest Photography Studio

The Edward Reeves Studio opened in 1855 and is still in business.

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Newsagents in Station Street (1953)Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
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Newsagents in Station Street (1953)Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Newsagents in Station Street (1953)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Motor Smash-Vallence and Martin,Lewes Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Motor Smash-Vallence and Martin, Lewes
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Defence not Defiance,celebration arch Lewes c. 1860sPhoto courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Defence not Defiance, Celebration Arch, Lewes (c. 1860s)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Lewes High Street c.1950Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Lewes High Street (c.1950)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Cliffe High Street, Lewes (1929)Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Cliffe High Street, Lewes (1929)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
High Street Jam,Lewes 4.8.1966Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
High Street Jam, Lewes (1966)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Ironmongers in High Street (1927)Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Ironmongers in High Street (1927)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Parade of trade vehicles in Lewes High Street c.1922Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Parade of trade vehicles in Lewes High Street (c.1922)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Unveiling Lewes War Memorial (1922)Photo courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial
Unveiling Lewes War Memorial (1922)
Photo: Courtesy of Brighton Photo Biennial

When Edward Reeves opened the doors of his photography studio in Lewes (Sussex, England) back in 1855, little did he imagine that his shop would become what today is thought to be the world’s oldest photography studio in business. The Edward Reeves Studio, still in its premises at 159 High Street, is now run by Tom Reeves, the founder’s great-grandson.

The Brighton Photo Biennial is now celebrating its rich legacy with the exhibition “Stories Seen Through a Glass Plate.” Fifty-five historical photographs, taken between the 1860s and 1960s in the streets of Lewes, will be displayed in light boxes in shop windows across town, near the locations where they were originally taken.

“Stories Seen Through a Glass Plate” is accompanied by a further exhibition at the Edward Reeves Studio, retracing its history. The studio has carefully preserved the work of the first three owners, an archive of over 100,000 photographic glass plates and accompanying paperwork, offering a unique insight into Lewes’ history. The archive also includes approximately 150,000 images on film and as digital files, collected since the studio opened. The family has even kept business ledgers. The archive as a whole provides an extraordinary account of the history of commercial photography.

Down the road, at 169 High Street, the Castle Museum is hosting the exhibition “Capturing Light,” which will display work by contemporary artists using early photographic processes, as well as old cameras and glass plates.

The Brighton Photo Biennial 2014 runs from October 4–November 2.


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