Hugh Welch Diamond
( b. 1809; d. 21 June 1886)

Nacido en Goudhurst Kent. Doctor de profesion Diamond fue uno de los fundadores de la Sociedad Fotográfica de Londres. Se graduo en 1824 en el Colegio Royal de cirujanos. En 1842 se interesa por las enfermedades mentales. Se le reconoce como el primero en documentar a travez del retrató a sus pacientes, mujeres del Surrey County Asylum, con la intención de plasmar en la imagen los distintos tipos de locura o dolencias psiquiátricas.

Originally was born in from Goudhurst in Kent. Dr Welch Diamond was a doctor by profession however is consider one of the earliest photographers that made a major contributions to the progress of mental illness documentary and portraiture. In 1824 he studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons, moving to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1828, He opened private practice in Soho, London. in 1842 he became interested in mental health and spent time at Bethlem Hospital which had been built in 1815. Being appointed to Bethlehem Hospital, the Surrey County Asylum. (Incidentally it is from this hospital’s name that we have the word “bedlam”, meaning a mad-house or scene of uproar). He applied his skills to photographing mainly female patients at the asylum, so earning the description “the father of psychiatric photography”. It was his contention that this could aid diagnosis, treatment and act as a record of the cure of mental infirmity.

He used photography to treat mental disorders; some of his many calotypes depicting the expressions of people suffering from mental disorders are particularly moving. These were used not only for record purposes, but also, he claimed (though there is little evidence of success) in the treatment of patients.

Perhaps it is for his attempts to popularize photography and to lessen its mystique that Diamond is best remembered. He wrote many articles and was a popular lecturer, and he also sought to encourage younger photographers. Amongst the latter was Henry Peach Robinson, who was later to refer to Diamond as a “father figure” of photography. Diamond was one of the founders of the Photographic Society, was later its Secretary and also became the editor of the Photographic Journal.
Recognition for his encouragement and for his willingness to share his knowledge came in 1855 in the form of a testimonial amounting to £300 for services to photography; among those who subscribed were such people as Delamotte, Fenton and George Shadbolt. In 1867 the Photographic Society awarded its Medal in recognition of “his long and successful labors as one of the principal pioneers of the photographic art and of his continuing endeavors for its advancement.” The following year, at his own initiative, he relinquished any further salary as Secretary of the Society.


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