See online version of the article here,
or read it below.
Tribute to an extraordinary life
9:57am Thursday 29th December 2005
THE great grandson of a renowned horticultural photographer has designed a website that commemorates his ancestor’s extraordinary life.
Matthew Meech’s website shows the historical significance of his great grandfather Reginald Malby.
Mr Malby ran his photographic studio and business Reginald A.Malby & Co from his home in Chelmsford Road, South Woodford.
He owned three residences there and used one of the buildings as his studio where he employed local people as his staff.
He had many employees because in those days there was more to taking a picture than snapping the image as is done with modern high-tech and digital cameras.
Malby took photographs of a variety of subjects including people, historical buildings and flowers.
His strength lay in capturing the beauty of rare plants, and he was able to photograph Kew Gardens during the early 1900s.
When Malby set up his business in the early 1900s colour images were few and far between, so his highly coloured images were at the cutting edge of photography.
Malby used glass slides as the medium on which he captured images and each slide had to be painstakingly painted by his employees.
At times they had to go with him on photographic excursions to note the colours they would need on their palette.
Malby’s story is a reminder that the use of colour was not always instant as it is now.
Innovators like Malby, who made their own cameras, were important for the advancement of photography and Malby had his innovation recognised through a number of awards.
He was an official photographer for the Royal Horticultural Society and his company won the RHS Medal in 1915, the RHS Gold Grenfell Medal in 1926 an even after his death, his company won the Veitch Memorial Medal in 1941.
Malby was dedicated to his job and would often leave his Woodford home and family in order to travel the world in search of the next great picture.
His adventures saw him make odysseys across Britain.
He photographed Chelsea Flower Show, Shakespeare’s house, Gloucester Cathedral and Chepstow Castle.
He captured scenes of London street life and its surrounding areas including images of Woodford.
He also set out on expeditions across the Alps and Europe, which was no easy task as the days of easy-to-carry camera equipment had yet to emerge.
Malby had to carry his home-made apparatus across the mountains and needed a team to help move the heavy equipment.
He would often risk his life, hanging off the sides of mountains in order to photograph a rare plant.
Mr Meech said: “I used to love looking at my great grandfather’s slides when I was a child and when I rediscovered them I had a real Antiques Roadshowmoment.”
Some of the slides are one of a kind and Mr Meech added: “They should be valuable as his pictures contain the floral, the famous and the historicaland those things never go out of fashion.”
There are Malby calendars, jigsaws and diaries used as products in Tesco, WH Smith and other major retailers.