The Mirror archives: A brief history...
In 1903 The Daily Mirror was created as a daily newspaper for women. Despite initial sales success the circulation rapidly fell and faced with a publishing disaster the owner, Alfred Harmsworth, took a bold decision.
The Daily Mirror was relaunched as an illustrated picture paper - using the latest technology to print photographs rather than simply just cartoons or etchings. The resulting title was an overnight success, for the first time the general population could see the news as it happened rather than simply read about it.
Such was the interest generated by this change, Mirror readers were often more fascinated by the story of how the pictures were taken rather than the story itself. As a result the daring exploits of Daily Mirror photographers regularly graced the front page and made Boy's Own heroes of those first pioneering photojournalists.
Enduring the horror of First World War trenches, being arrested as a spy in Siberia, becoming the official court photographer to the Mikado and accidentally ending up playing late-night poker with John Wayne in his hotel room. These are just a handful of the stories that have shaped our archives.
Of course, other newspapers eventually followed suit, if you were publishing a newspaper, photographs became a major selling point, and so the story of British press photography throughout the 20th Century and beyond has been about getting the scoop, outwitting your rivals and making sure that your newspaper images were the best, and published first.
One important element of the original decision by Harmsworth that is sometimes overlooked is that in making the Daily Mirror a photographic newspaper, the first press photographic archives were created at the same time. As a stunning record of British and world history as it happened, The Mirror photographic archives are a testament to the success of our photographers in their daily struggle to get the perfect picture. As the single largest British press photographic collection our picture archives tell the story of Britain throughout the most dynamic century of human existence and beyond.Fortunately The Mirror's photographic archives have remained largely intact and along with those of The Sunday Pictorial (later Sunday Mirror), The People, The Daily Record, Sunday Mail and The Daily Herald they form an impressive and unrivalled collection of historic images charting history as it happened from the earliest days of the 20th century.
For the past few years Mirrorpix has been digitising those photographic archives, editorial photos and social history photographic collections, and the results of that work can be seen here alongside our contemporary photojournalism. In total the photo archives number over 60 million images and so far only a fraction of that number have been digitised. However, we're already learning much more about the archives and in turn the stories of the photographers who worked hard to capture the news each and every day in a single perfect image.
The following pages briefly cover some of the more notable photographers who have worked for our newspapers and are intended as an introduction to these impressive photographic archives through the eyes of the men and women who created them.
We'll be adding more stories from time to time, so please check back regularly for more updates and all feedback is of course welcome.
Notable Photographers (more to follow)
The story starts with the Grant Brothers: Tom, Horace and Bernard.
Mirrorpix - Life in pictures.