George William Morgan was born in 1855 in Clatt, a village in northeastern Scotland. The son of a blacksmith, he initially apprenticed as a druggist in Aberdeen before relocating to California, where he studied photography in San Francisco under local photographer George Daniels Morse. Returning to Aberdeen in 1880, Mr. Morgan worked as an assistant to photographer Alexander Dinnie at his 3 Bridge Place studio.
After paying his professional dues, Mr. Morgan opened the Elite Studios with his brother William at 5 Market Street in downtown Aberdeen. The studio quickly established itself as a popular portrait gallery, and later expanded its operations into the west-end, 393 Union Street, doing business there as Messrs. Morgan, and later operated smaller studios in the suburbs of Aboyne and Ballater. Mr. Morgan married, and his family grew to include 12 children. When he was not taking portraits or exhibiting his works at the Royal Photographic Society, he generously donated his time to the Ferryhill Parish Church as a violinist and choir director. He was also known for his civic activism and generous support of Aberdeen businesses. The Aberdeen Daily Journal described Mr. Morgan as "a thorough artist in every sense of the word." He was always seeking to join his love of science with his passion for photography, and often experimented with various types of light sources. In 1894, he made what are believed to be the first nighttime photographs utilizing magnesium light. The sitter would not be exposed to any type of harmful rays as the magnesium light would lightly travel over its subject and allow just enough light for the photographer to capture a nocturnal image. He patented several of his photographic instruments, including a set of rotating rollers designed to enhance scenic backgrounds. His photographs also won several industry prizes for portraiture and retouching.
In June of 1909, Mr. Morgan was traveling to London by train on what was supposed to be a routine business trip with a friend and colleague. Awakened by some gusty winds, Mr. Morgan's traveling companion noticed he was missing. It is believed he had awakened in the middle of the night, and accidentally fell from the train for reasons that remain unclear. G. W. Morgan's tragic death at the age of 54 stunned family, friends, and members of the tight-knit Aberdeen business community. He was interred in Aberdeen's Allenvale Cemetery, and Mr. Morgan's photographic business continued operations for several years after his death.
1894 Cassell's Family Magazine (London: Cassell and Company, Limited), p. 239.
1895 The Photogram, Vol. II (London: Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd.), p. 211.
1901 The Process Engraver's Monthly, Vol. VIII (London: Dawbarn & Ward), p. i.
2016 The Silver City Vault (URL: http://www.silvercityvault.org.uk).
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