People Behind the Lens

When looking at a photograph, sometimes it is easy to forget that behind each one is a photographer with a camera, deciding where to point the lens, what will be in the frame and what will be left out. From 1972 until the mid-1990s, YAT employed a small team of passionate, dedicated and highly-skilled photographers to capture images related to its activities. In the 1980s there was a shift in focus and the excavation team, many of whom were also experienced photographers, began to take over some responsibility for site photography. 

This selection of photographs, taken mainly at Tanner Row and Wellington Row, reveal the great lengths that photographers have gone to for the perfect shot. Some of these photographs also provide an added element of interest, with the rarely-seen photographer stepping into the frame.

At this time, the single lens reflex (SLR) cameras that were used were either 35mm or medium formats. Some of these cameras are still in use by the fieldwork team today,  alongside digital photography, as some curators prefer film due to its archival durability.

Right from the beginning I believed strongly in sharing the Trust’s new discoveries widely. Digs were often made open to the public. Here, at the Ouse-side site that eventually became York’s majestic AVIVA building, surprised executives marvel at the well-preserved remains of the Roman town Colonia Eboracensis.

-Peter Addyman, First Director of YAT

Hear from YAT Photographers

Arthur McGregor

Photographer, 1972-1980

Arthur was York Archaeological Trust’s first Finds Researcher, joining the new formed organisation upon completing his MA in 1972. His role involved cataloguing, researching and publishing finds alongside overall responsibility for the photographic record of the Trust’s excavations.

Simon I. Hill

Senior Photographer, 1987-1992

Head of the Photography and Audiovisual Unit, 1992-1994

Simon Hill was appointed as Senior Photographer at York Archaeological Trust in 1987. During this period the photography department began to produce multi-projector audio visual displays, including one that was presented at the National Museum of Iceland. Video diaries were used on-site for the first time, with the ultimate aim of editing the footage together for display at the Archaeological Resource Center (now DIG: An Archaeological Adventure). As the department expanded, he became Head of the Photography and Audiovisual Unit.

Next: People In Front of the Lens