Generations of British photographers have lost a friend, mentor, and fellow enthusiast. For decades the name of Geoffrey Crawley has been hard to miss in photographic circles. He was associated with The British Journal of Photography from the early 1960s until 2000, including a 21-year tenure as that publication's Editor-in-Chief. More recently he wrote as the photo-science consultant of Amateur Photographer magazine.
Like Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, and Charles Cramer, his first love was the piano.
An inveterate photo-chemist, Geoffrey Crawley formulated some of the Paterson line of chemicals, including Acutol, for years a well-known fine-grain developer. He devised many fine-grain, high-acutance, and high-sharpness formulas with the prefix "FX," most recently FX-55, an environmentally friendly "Vitamin C" developer based in part on the work of Patrick Gainer. He was also known as an enthusiastic and exhaustive lens tester.
At the end of the 1970s Crawley became known to a broader public for definitively exposing the ruse behind the previously mysterious "Cottingley Fairies" pictures of 1917, known as the longest-running photographic hoax in history (the story is the basis of not one but two movies). The photographs were promoted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, who was an enthusiastic spiritualist. They caused quite a sensation with a hopeful public reeling (as Conan Doyle was) from the shocks and losses of the Great War.
In the process of his investigations, Crawley became friends with Elsie Wright, one of the schoolgirl cousins who took the famous photographs. The BJP's obituary tells a more complete version of the story.
There is also an obituary at AP.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.