Segments in this Video

Introduction: Notman's Camera (02:46)


This film features William Notman's career, craft, and success as a photographer.

Finding a Future in Photography (02:01)

In 1856, Notman travels over the ocean to Montreal to find a future. Fleeing legal persecution over "creative accounting," Notman enters this new metropolis as a photographer.

Construction of the Victoria Bridge (02:38)

Notman begins his career by taking portraits of Montreal's elite. In 1858, he is commissioned to take pictures of the construction of the Victoria Bridge.

Photographer to the Queen (02:10)

Notman, self-proclaimed photographer to the Queen, exploits this title acquiring a studio and staff. Notman's photography studio is the first of its kind in Victoria.

Portraits in the Plot of History (03:25)

In Notman's time, portraiture was an important part of social life. People put themselves in the hands of the skilled photographer, trusting him to capture the essential character of the sitter.

William Notman: Notable Sitters (03:39)

Notable figures sit for portraits at Notman's studio. Jefferson Davis, president of the confederate states, sits with his wife in a formal portrait in traditional Victorian garb.

William Notman: Numbered Collection (02:20)

The continual collection of Notman's photographs gives further information about individuals and families of the past. Over 450,000 photographs are in collection.

William Notman: Portraiture in the 19th Century (03:09)

People requested pictures of family members, because death was so frequent and so close. Notman's daughter, Fannie, died at the age of 11. His daughter, Alice, died at the age of 17.

William Notman: Fathers of the Confederation Visit (02:57)

In 1864, Fathers of Confederation visit the Notman studio. An opening of a local skating rink gives Notman further opportunity for prosperity. He takes all individual portraits and combines them into a panorama image.

William Notman: Creating Composites (05:09)

Notman's composites create an avenue for the upper-middle class to show off their wealth. Appreciation surrounds the difficult work of creating composites in the 19th Century.

William Notman: Business Expansion (02:14)

With new studios in Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax, and St. John and branches in New York and Boston, Notman experiences an economic surge. In all 19 studios in the United States, "house style and standards are maintained."

William Notman: Journey into the Uncharted Interior (03:01)

Notman assigns employee Benjamin Baltzly to capture the journey through the interior of British Columbia. He takes 120 photographs of the land "before it was altered by the human hand."

William Notman: Representing Iconic Canada (04:00)

To keep busy in winter, Notman attempts to represent Canada in the studio with snow and ice. Winter in the 19th Century is a time of leisure. Notman uses arctic fox fur or salt to add the effect of snow in his photographs.

William Notman: Artistic Productions (01:56)

A hunter and his guide stage hunting scenes in Notman's studio; a high-level artistic production with Notman as the art director. A "treat" for those around the world seeking images of the Canadian frontier.

William Notman: Smallpox Epidemic (03:27)

In Montreal, 1885, Mayor Jean-Louis Beaudry is on a mission to clean up his city. Smallpox spreads in the poor areas of the city, killing 3,000 people. Notman's studio continues to operate through the epidemic.

William Notman: Father and Son Partnership (05:12)

During the smallpox epidemic, Notman takes 3,000 photographs. His son, William Mcfarlane Notman, grows-up in the studio and becomes his father's partner;landscape is his strength.

WIlliam Notman: Macfarlane Notman's Landscape (01:54)

William Mcfarlane Notman's landscape photographs display Canada as "exotic and grand." They are the means of which he earns a reputation that is truly his own.

WIlliam Notman: Death at 65 (04:33)

In November 1891, Notman suffers from a cold. The cold turns to pneumonia and a week later he dies at the age of 65. His success stems from his remarkable vision. Canadian history is attached to his photographs.

Credits: Notman's Camera (01:15)

Credits: Notman's Camera

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Notman's Camera

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



William Notman is said to be the most successful photographer in all of North America. In 1873 alone he produced 14,000 images; some are treasured private possessions, while others are reproduced in the thousands and are sold around the world. This film explores Notman's career as a photographer, the success he experienced, and his legacy. 

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL93634

ISBN: 978-1-68272-215-2

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.