We are pleased to present this pre-release (beta) version of the Directory of Belgian Photographers. It consists of a comprehensive database of photographers active in Belgium and of Belgian nationality active abroad between the introduction of photography in 1839 and the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Belgian state in 1905.

There are nearly 5 400 entries, including a couple of hundred cross-references, covering professional and amateur photographers as well as firms and individuals active in connected trades (for instance, platemaking, photomechanical printing). For further explanations on the content and structure, please consult the section Directory: structure of entries.

This database is an online version of the Directory of Photographers in Belgium 1839-1905, by Steven F. Joseph, Tristan Schwilden and Marie-Christine Claes, published by the Museum of Photography, Antwerp, in 1997. The same authors have been active in creating this online version, once again with the enthusiastic support of FOMU. English is used throughout, in order to make the database available to a broad audience of international scholars and researchers. An exception is made for locations and Place Names in Belgium, which have been faithfully transcribed from the original sources used by the photographers themselves.

The contents of the 1997 Directory and this database are identical, except for the correction of typographical errors and the minor restructuring of individual entries imposed by their transposition from a printed medium into digital form. The software used is Atomis for ICA-AtoM, an open-source web application for archive description and management. The basic structure of the Directory is alphabetical in both printed and digital versions but in its present form with the specificities inherent in the electronic environment used. Thus, when searching the database, which is space-sensitive as well as accent-sensitive, it may be necessary to use alternative forms of names (for instance, Van der Straeten / Vander Straeten / Vanderstraeten or Ghémar / Ghemar).

We would like to emphasise that this version of our database is experimental and far from its final form. It is exclusively text-based although we fully intend to include images as an integral component in future versions. In the coming months the authorial and technical teams will be working on expanding the database, improving its contents and enhancing its search capability. This means that we will be thoroughly revising many hundreds of current entries to take full account of recent scholarship and in particular the new knowledge that online resources have made available over the intervening twenty years since the Directory was first published. Up to a thousand new entries will enable the historical record of Belgian photography to be extended further into the 20th century, in the first instance until 1914 when the outbreak of the First World War marked a caesura in photographic activity from an economic as well as the creative point of view. Furthermore we are planning to add forms to facilitate searching the Locations and Exhibitions fields.

In the meantime, we hope that you enjoy consulting this Directory of Belgian Photographers. For any queries or comments, please contact us, in Dutch, French, German or English, via the dedicated mailbox directory[at]fomu.be
© The Authors, 2016

Update (January 2018):
In the past year, we have added 500 new entries, mainly for the period 1906-1914, bringing the total number of entries to 5 900. We have also amended and updated 1 500 existing entries. All these updates can be browsed chronologically in "Recent changes".