Moffat, John


Active 1853 – 1894 died

Macnab’s Burial Place, Killin, c.1865

227 - Moffat - Macnabs burial place Killin.jpg

Moffat was one of the earliest and most successful Edinburgh photographers. Having previously worked as an engraver, he turned photographer in 1853. In 1856 he moved his studio from the Southside to prestigious Princes Street, where the business lasted into the 1950s.

Although regarded mainly as a studio portraitist, he also took stereoscopic views. Only some of his views are labelled or have a blindstamp, but the existence of a studio register of his work allows us to identify others which otherwise would have remained anonymous.

In addition to over 300 topographical views of Scotland, he photographed local life, including the Newhaven fishwives, and took early genre views.

Moffat was a leading light in Edinburgh’s various photographic societies. At one meeting in 1864, he took some of the first flash photographs, using burning magnesium to take portraits of Fox Talbot and Brewster. It is claimed that this was the first ever portrait of Talbot using the process he had invented! Following up, Moffat invited him to his studio for a famous series of carte-de-visite (CDV) portraits.