We’ve just added a lovely selection of bits and bobs to our shop, including John Bevis’s The Keartons: Inventing nature photography, newly released by Uniformbooks. This new and definitive study concerns itself with the lives and partnership of brothers Richard and Cherry Kearton – who took the first ever photograph of a bird’s nest with eggs in 1892. Realising the camera’s potential to reveal secrets of the natural world, they resolved to make the best possible records of their discoveries in the habitats, habits and behaviour of birds and other creatures. The following three years of field work resulted in the first nature book to be illustrated entirely with photographs.
This was the springboard to two outstanding careers in wildlife photography. Richard developed the photographic hide through a series of devices which included the extraordinary Stuffed Ox, was author of numerous best-selling nature books, and with an exhaustive programme of public lectures did more than anyone of his generation to popularise nature studies. Cherry excelled at both still and cine photography, made the first recording of birds singing in the wild, and brought back the first film footage of African big game. They were, as numerous natural history photographers have proclaimed, founding fathers of their discipline.
Reproduced throughout the book are the remarkable photographs that the Keartons declared as having been taken ‘direct from nature’.
John Bevis is a writer specialising in nature and the arts, poetry and criticism. His involvement in writing since the mid-1970s has gone hand-in-hand with working in book design, printing and publishing. He will give a talk on the Keartons, accompanied by a slideshow of their photographs, at Caught by the River Thames (both Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August).