Not even with the publication of a splendid book by Edith Stowe Godfrey Heyl in 1951 did photogra­phers come into their own in Bermuda. Ber­muda through the Camera of James B. Heyl, 1868-1897, a large format 240-page volume of that same number of fine to superb plates, met with scant appreciation when published and was thought too dear at five pounds. It was some twenty-five mouldering years later before the unsold bulk of the limited edition was retrieved from a back storeroom of the Bermuda Book Store and put up front again for sale. The edition promptly sold out, for by then Bermudians had discovered that heri­tage books were a good investment, and at five pounds Edith Heyl’s productions looked like a very good investment indeed. The punters were right: coming up to another quarter century furtheron you might be lucky to pick up a copy at auction for a thousand dollars. 

Ah well! Perhaps that humble breed will draw satisfaction from the knowledge that someone, some day could reap the benefit of their creative toil, unless of course their crea­tions, published or otherwise, moulder too long in some musty archive or damp cup­board. 

James B. Heyl was saved in time, thanks firstly to his daughter, and secondly to James V. Zuill ( the owner of the Book Store). Heyl would be remembered as a photographer long after it was forgotten that he was first a pharmacist. Other photographers would likely fare less well.

One wonders, for instance, who were the photographers responsible for the excellent illustrations contained in a flippant, not to say precocious, but nevertheless not unbeguilling book called Bermuda in Three Colours by Carveth Wells, published, one hazards a guess from the preliminaries, around 1935. The publisher proudly states that there are 100 il­lustrations in gravure (a process now too ex­pensive to employ), yet outrageously neglects to state with whom the credit lies. Certain it is the photographs are not all the author’s, be­cause several are recognisable as the work of Walter Rutherford. 

Early and first-rate guide books such as Bushell’s Handbook and Bell’s Beautiful Ber­muda, both of which ran for decades in mul­tiple editions until about the nineteen sixties, gave the occasional photo-credit but were otherwise equally guilty, and, to this day, the local newspapers rarely give credit where due to posterity’s loss.

A. E. McCallan, author of Life in Old St. David’s, was much more considerate and such fine craftsmen as Wilfred Higgs, Allan Wingood, J.J. and J.R. Outerbridge, Freder­ick Roberts, and Nea, E.L. and J.E.D. Smith are acknowledged throughout the book. Hudson Strode, in his Story on Bermuda, mentions the sole illustrator (and what a magnificent one), Walter Rutherford; on the title page. Other writers, on the other hand, are content to acknowledge the reigning gods of institutions.

Perhaps a few names, after James B. Heyl, will be remembered notwithstanding. Nicho­las Etherbert Lusher will surely be one who will not recede into history’s limbo. He was a contemporary and personal friend of George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, and was the Island’s first commercial photogra­pher, trading around the turn of the century under the name N .E. Lusher & Sun, so him­self acknowledging that great orb without whose power he would not have been in busi­ness. The glass plate negatives of his wonderful Victorian portraits are safely preserved in the Archives.

Others who must at least be remembered for their fine illustrations include David Knudsen, Bunny Conyers, Pete Perinchief, and of course Walter Rutherford, but it is worth recording that Dave went into retail­ing, Bunny took up equally lucrative process­ing, Peter threw in the sponge to become an authority on fishing, while Walter gave up the profession and left the Island to lay bricks in New York -because he had to eat! It can only be hoped that Walter continued working non-commercially as the sensitive artist he was, and that his work will have survived him – I understand that he died a year ago.

Hilton Hill, who made almost all the prints for Edith’s Heyl’s book, and was a very good photographer in his own right, must not be overlooked, though he too has long since abandoned the field for richer pastures, and most certainly his one-time partner, Rich­ard Saunders, should go down in Bermuda history as a great and heroic master of the craft for his sensitive portrayal of the African people and of that wonderful continent. 

l am reminded of past and possibly con­tinuing neglect of the photographic fraternity by recent news of the accidental death, in a car accident near his Naples, Florida home, of Frederick L. Hamilton, who for a good many years roamed these islands with his camera and with little concern for financial gain, merely because of his deep love of the coun­try and of nature in general. To be sure, he was not born poor, nor did he live in penury, but his ambitions ran to rather more reward than the pleasure of standing back to admire his own work. 

Freddy was a fine photographer who had the makings of a great photographer. He was strongly influenced by Anselm Adams and the early American school of the pure photo­graphic image. It was a type of work which many at the time looked upon as documen­tary, but which authorities have always recog­nised as the highest expression of the craft, and the only path to pursue if photography is to maintain its integrity and find a rightful place among the fine arts. If Freddy flirted at times with the degenerate ‘pictorialism’ which aped fine arts and for years frustrated progress in Britain and the Continent, it cannot be said to have brought his downfall, but could well have been the beginning of his despair, for to me there is little doubt that he did become disenchanted with photography. It seems to be that Freddy’s tragedy in this respect was that he simply didn’t know how good he was, and too few told him – or were able to tell him. At its best, his work was of that degree of in­tegrity that was not generally recognised for what it was. Maybe he was ahead of his time. 

Almost adding to the irony was the dis­covery that his Bermuda negatives, which were purchased by the Bermuda Government nearly thirty years ago, were not among the files of the Government Archives. My request for a selection of prints to illustrate this article therefore initially drew a blank. A little persis­tence however brought them to light. They were reposing quite safely at the back of a cupboard, contained in their original shoe boxes, Freddy’s name still distinguishable on the lids, though another few years of fading ink might have put them among the anony­mous. 

Frederick L. Hamilton was born in Ber­muda very early in the century, of a (presuma­bly) Scottish-American father and French mother. He was a contemporary of Sir John Cox, who recalls their Saltus Grammar School days together with sweet nostalgia and no little amusement. Freddy, it seems, had a penchant for getting into scrapes and was also prone to accidents. Sir John particularly re­members him appearing at school well ban­daged and with his arm in a sling, having sus­tained among other injuries, a broken arm in falling down a cliff. I recalled my own knowl­edge of his survival, swathed in bandages, after a near-fatal car crash on the approach to his home at that time in Old Saybrook, Con­necticut, as I recall, in the nineteen sixties. 

I remember him not only as a photogra­pher but as a close friend of many shared inter­ests. He was passionately fond of good music and delighted in the arts in general, but he was essentially a romantic who had little patience with the moderns and could get quite irascible on the subject. It could fairly be said that un­less you had seen him in that state you had not seen him at his grandest. But the condition was always short-lived – minutes later he would be guffawing loudly and wringing your arm off if you took leave at that point. 

He was very protective of Bermuda’s environment and could be said to have been among the first conservationists. There were no bounds to his excursions with camera and tripod, and he was familiar with the Castle Islands and other remote regions when the average Bermudian was scarcely aware of their existence. Sir John Cox tells of his discovery in his youth of the lake in the middle of Paget Marsh, and of his taking on a bet with another lad who refused to credit his claim. Naturally he won the bet. Taking the charitable view, we might excuse his questionable ethics in betting on a certainty, on the grounds of youthful artlessness. 

Though he seemed to lose touch with a number of his old friends after he left Ber­muda in the sixties, he maintained a life-long close friendship with Teddy and Edna Tucker. (Teddy has been host and guide to innumerable marine biologists and has long been known in that fraternity, both as treasure diver and expert on marine life). Through Edna I recently learned that Freddy travelled extensively as a photographer in his earlier days and, among other important assign­ments, photographed the entire collection of the Japanese crown jewels. A little less sublime was the position he held for a time as social host with camera at Bermuda’s Mid Ocean Club. 

But I remember him especially as a man of enquiring mind, who would never cease searching for the meaning of life. I have a vivid recollection of an occasion during his meta­physical speculations among friends, when he came up with a novel solipsist theory which placed the deity very close to home! His young son, Walcott, had been listening in. One of the circle noticed this and, anxious to show the boy some attention, asked him what were his ambitions in life. “I have no ambi­tions,” Walcott said, “I’m quite content to be the Son of God.” 

Whether understanding him or not, all who knew Freddy must carry a mental picture of a dominant character and rugged individu­alist. He was the kind of man who stimulated thought, provoked argument, and injected into any company a shot of strong colour, which not so much relieved as demolished boredom. I suppose, subconsciously and not unnaturally, one was inclined to feel defensive in the presence of such a man, only after his death feeling humility, and pride in having known him.