DATELINE: First Photographer
Harry Burton’s Colorized Boy King!
Howard Carter traveled and lectured using Harry Burton’s hand-colored glass plate photos from 1923 taken at the Valley of the Kings. Most of Burton’s photos, seldom seen, are brilliantly set up and lighted like a Vermeer.
Back in the days when it was politically incorrect, King Tutankhamun was known as Old King Tut. We doubt anyone knew any name except the nickname.
The Man Who Shot King Tutankhamun is an intriguing depiction of the picture man who shot with a camera.
The man who went with Howard Carter to document with stunning photos was named Harry Burton, largely forgotten figure behind the camera.
His photos were done on glass plates in the difficult conditions of the tomb, yet he composed them like one of the Great Masters.
A little documentary tries to give him credit, but he has hidden in the shadows for so long that he may be hard to find.
In this overview, the son of a blue-collar carpenter in England made his own fate at age 16 by hooking up with a wealthy art patron. He became a teenage travel companion and moved to the art circles of Florence, Italy, where he encountered the upper-crust and the wealthy. He made his lot with them, teaching himself photography and becoming an amateur archaeologist and assistant to the check writers of research.
Whether Burton was gay or not may be unresolved, or whether he merely found it an opportunistic means to climb the social ladder, he managed to enhance his innate talents in photography.
His glass plates were pristine, beautiful set-ups of the dig sites and discoveries. Using light determinations that had to be done by sense, not instrument, he created stunning images.
He managed to make a long-term association with the irascible Howard Carter, providing him with the fame from pictures of him with King Tut’s mummy. Burton remained in Egypt for the rest of his life, ending in 1940, where he became the ultimate expatriate.