Shortly after the dawn of photography, the unlikely partnership between the respected painter David Octavius Hill and the young engineer Robert Adamson produced some of the most important photographs in the history of the medium. Their alliance began when Hill, while working on his large commemorative painting of the people involved in forming the Free Chruch of Scotland in 1843, began using photography as a tool to document the church elders. What followed was a four-and-a-half-year partnership - cut short by Adamson's untimely death in 1848 - that produced a large body of work. During their association Hill and Adamson experimented with some of the earliest calotype processes creating hundreds of portraits, staged dramatic photographs, and architectural and landscape images. The Getty Museum holds more than 400 works by Hill and Adamson, 47 of which are featured in this volume. The plates are accompanied by commentary from Anne M. Lyden, curatorial assistant in the Department of Photographs at the Museum. A colour foldout of Hill's above-referenced painting "The Signing of the Deed of Demission (The Disruption Picture)" appears in the back of the book.
The book includes a chronology of the key events of the artists' partnership and an edited transcript of a colloquium on the artists, with participants: Lyden; Weston Naef, curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum; Sara Stevenson, curator of photographs at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Alison Morrison-Low, curator, History of Science Section, National Museums of Scotland; Jonathon Reff, photographer, Los Angeles; Michael Wilson, private collector, Los Angeles and London; and David Featherstone, independent editor and curator, San Francisco.