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  C. Klary

Monsieur Charles "C" Klary was born in Nancy, France in 1837. While serving in the French Army in 1860, he was dispatched to Algeria and worked as a telegraphic operator when he became interested in photography. After leaving the army in 1863, he studied photography in Paris (reportedly under the tutelage of Nadar) and London. He returned to Algeria two years' later and opened an elaborate photographic studio on Oran Street Gardens. His intricate portrait photography and keen attention to detail is evident in his carte de visite of a high society matron entitled, "The Bird." Mr. Klary's publishing career began in 1874, when he published a technical photographic manual that became an immediate international success and translated into several languages. He followed that up with subsequent volumes on theory and contemporary practices/processes.

Mr. Klary left Algeria permanently in 1879 to enter into a business partnership with Wilhelm Bencque. Their studio, located on Rue Boissy d'Anglas, operated for two years. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Klary built his own massive studio in Paris that featured one of the most impressive photographic equipment inventories of its time. Between portrait photography, writing, and experimentation, he maintained a whirlwind schedule that included studying color photography at William Kurtz's New York studio. Upon his return to Paris, Mr. Klary embarked upon creating a school of photography, the first of its kind in France. The School of Practical Photography introduced established photographers to the latest techniques while educating amateurs on theories, applications, and processes.

During the 1890s, Mr. Klary began a period of intensive study and experimenting with the manipulation of light. He became a widely quoted expert on the uses of artificial lighting to maximize artistic effectiveness. For Rembrandt lighting, Mr. Klary recommended: "Do not change the position of the face, but move your camera so as to obtain a view of the other cheek, and with some slight modifications of the head-screen, this lighting will be as perfectly rendered as the other; it is not here necessary to use the reflector, the head-screen alone will regulate the top-light, which must be used sparingly, so that it may not fall upon the points where the middle tones are wanted."

The first issue of Mr. Klary's journal Le Photogramme - the French equivalent of the British publication The Photogram - received an enthusiastic response in 1897. Five years' later, he published an impressive compilation entitled La Photographie du Nu (The Nude in Photography) that included 100 photographs and exhaustive research on the issues associated with photographing nudes as opposed to painting them. For example, Mr. Klary asserted the photographer is limited by the natural physical imperfections of the human body and its oftentimes pallid skin tones. He has also generated some modern-day controversy by alleging that male nude photographs are superior to their female counterparts. Mr. Klary remained active in photography and book publishing until at least 1918, when he was in his 80s. The date of Mons. C. Klary's death is unknown, but an excerpt from one of his letters provides a fitting epitaph:

"All my life I have been a hard worker, although keeping aloof from anything that would seem to be a matter of self-glorification. I have devoted myself chiefly to photography as an art, and although it has given me many cares and disappointments, I love it as much now as in the early days."

1897 The British Printer, Vol. X (London: Raithby, Lawrence & Co., Ltd.), p. 121.

2010 CDV The Month (URL:

1902 The Photogram, Vol. IX (London: Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd.), p. 285.

1909 Photographic Times, Vol. XLI (New York: The Photographic Times Publishing Association), p. 416.

1896 Wilson's Photographic Magazine, Vol. XXXIII (New York: Edward L. Wilson), pp. 31-32.

1887 Wilson's Quarter Century in Photography (New York: Edward L. Wilson), p. 119.

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