Camera, light and other photography equipment

Photography and Imaging

Contact us

Phone: +44 (0)20 3073 4944

Working from a well-equipped central studio, our highly-experienced photography team produces 2D and 3D high-end images.

We photograph objects from the permanent collection as well as archaeology, architecture, landscapes, portraits, time-lapse and scientific images. We also produce images on location in support of our exhibitions and events programme both at home and abroad.

We're willing to answer any queries you may have. Please contact:

Photography timeline


Poor quality black and white image of the British Museum when it was at Montague House.
The first-ever photograph of the British Museum, taken by William Henry Fox Talbot. 
Photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot took the first photograph of the British Museum when its home was a large stately building called Montague House. He used his new photographic process – the Calotype – which was the first negative/positive process that allowed copies of an original photograph to be made. The trial was rushed and the hot summer temperatures spoiled the results.


Black and white photograph of Roger Fenton.
Roger Fenton.
Roger Fenton was appointed as the first Official Photographer of the British Museum  – he was appointed as Honorary Secretary of the Photographic Society in the same year. Architect Robert Smirke built a glasshouse studio to provide Fenton with a suitable place to work. The studio was demolished in 1990 to make way for an electrical plant room serving the Great Court.


Black and white photograph showing the Top studio – a large daylight photographic studio with a glass roof.
Photographers at work in the daylight photographic studio. 
A new Museum building, now known as the King Edward VII building, was opened. It had a larger daylight photographic studio (the Top studio) on its top floor that was designed to accommodate the rise in photographic requirements. Photographic work was disrupted during the First World War.    


Black and white image of Donald Lyon standing by a xxx camera.
Donald Lyon operating a Gandolfi baseboard camera. 
Donald Lyon was appointed as Foreman of Photographers. He was the first salaried photographer at the Museum and was paid £180 per year. All previous photographers were commissioned on a freelance basis. He started out with one assistant but, by time he retired in 1957, he had a team of six photographers.


Black and white photograph showing extensive damage to the British Museum caused by bombing.
Extensive damage to the British Museum caused by Second World War bombing. 
Photography is renamed as the Photographic Service following a restructuring of roles within the Museum. New photography staff had to have a recognised photography qualification.


Black and white photograph showing the in-house photography stood on the steps outside the British Museum.
The in-house photography team on the steps outside the British Museum. 
When Ray Pearce became Head of Photography, he hired many more photographers and expanded the in-house photographic provisions, such as colour processing, infrared and ultra-violet techniques.


Photograph showing buildings, pavement and road around 1 Montague Place.
Outside One Montague Place.
The Top Studio closed and the Photographic Service moved into a re-developed Georgian building at 1 Montague Place. Around this time, photographic studios were set up in the East Basement, the Sepulchral Basement, the Prints & Drawings department, the Science and Conservation departments, the Museum of Mankind in Burlington Gardens, and at Orsman Road.


British Museum photographer phtographing an archaeological dig in Jordan
Photographing an archaeological dig in Jordan in 1985. 
The first archaeological photographic assignment to Jordan. After this, archaeological dig photography took place in Oman, Egypt, Bulgaria, Rome and the UK.


Three photographers at work in the Sepulchral basement studio.
Photographers at work in the Sepulchral basement studio.
The Photographic Service became fully digital and was re-named Photography & Imaging. The film archive was assessed. Older black and white glass negatives and 35mm transparencies were stored at the Dean Hill facility. The rest of the archive was housed in a temperature/humidity-controlled environment in the old Conservation Annexe on the East Road.


Photo of a photography studio in the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre
Photographers at work in a studio in the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre.
One Montague Place was demolished and other satellite studios were closed. The centralised Photography & Imaging department moved into bespoke photography studios within the World Conservation & Exhibition Centre on the north-west corner of the British Museum site.