Olive Edis – Sheringham’s Photography Legacy

As a photographer in the town of Sheringham, I am always struck by the legacy of photographers from this amazing little town in North Norfolk. The story of Olive Edis is particularly fascinating.

Mary Olive Edis was a talented photographer who opened her first studio with her sister Katherine in the early 1900s in Sheringham. They specialized in photographing fishermen,

Olive was a true pioneer in the world of portrait photography. Using natural light and shadow, she created strikingly modern portraits of some of the most famous people of her time, including George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Hardy, and David Lloyd George, as well as Mrs Pankhurst. In addition to her creative talents, she was also a technical genius, entirely self-taught. She was the first to use colour autochrome portraits, in 1912, and also designed and patented her own diascope, a viewer for autochromes.

Olive was one of the first women to join the ranks of the highly respected Royal Photographic Society in 1913, and she was named a Fellow in 1914. Then, as World War I unfolded, she was commissioned to photograph British women in the various war services as well as the battlefields of France and Flanders from 1918 to 1919. These pictures, taken with natural light instead of studio light, are a unique record of that time period as well as of women’s significant contributions to the war and its aftermath.

Take a step back in time with these black and white photographs, colourised using photoshop. I love exploring photography and imagining what these old photos would have looked like. These colourised versions are my interpretation of what they may have looked like.

There is a wonderful collection of original Fisherman portraits held in the Sheringham Museum Collection.

Olive Edis 2 - The Studio SheringhamOlive Edis - The Studio Sheringham
Olive Edis 6 - The Studio SheringhamOlive Edis 5 - The Studio Sheringham
Olive Edis 4 - The Studio SheringhamOlive Edis 3 - The Studio Sheringham
Olive Edis 8 - The Studio SheringhamOlive Edis 7 - The Studio Sheringham
Olive Edis 10 - The Studio SheringhamOlive Edis 9 - The Studio Sheringham

Copyright of these images belongs to Olive Edis

1 Comment

  1. Tim Groves

    Brilliant Gareth. Very clever use of colouring that brings images to life Certainly Olive was of national importance as a female photographer at a time when men dominated the industry. Her portraits are held within the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.


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