Opening the Shutters: Investigating and Preserving the World's Oldest Photographic Studio and Archive.
In 1858 Edward Reeves opened a Studio in the High Street of Lewes, East Sussex having taken up photography a few years earlier. The studio is now run by his great grandson Tom Reeves and his wife Tania Osband. It still operates as a thriving photographic Studio and shop. Edward Reeves Studio is the oldest surviving Photographic Studio, run by the same family, in the world. Remarkably almost everything has been kept. Over 150,000 glass plates, 100,000 film negatives and around 200,000 digital images - as well as, in the studio, original furniture and props.

More unusually also preserved is the relating business paperwork: negative books, account books, correspondence and ephemera. The photographs show the residents of an English market town- having their portrait taken in the studio, at work, during leisure hours and at public events. This is the ideal time to carry out this project, as digital technology allows us to scan and cross reference this material, converting glass plates and copperplate writing to digital files and share this treasure with local audiences and photographic specialists.

Brigitte Lardinois, Senior Research Fellow in Photography at the London College of Communication, is spearheading the project that aims to digitize the ledgers and related paperwork, in order to unlock what is kept in the many rows of meticulously numbered archive boxes.

The University of the Arts is currently applying for grants to execute this work. Following some very successful exhibitions in the town many volunteers have come forward with offers to help with the transcription of the ledgers and specialists from the photography world are involved giving invaluable advice on how to undertake this big, but exciting, task.

This project is an initiative of the Photography and Archive Research Centre, UAL.