My Ancestors Among the Earliest Photographers in The Americas

Photography has been in my family for six generations now. I remember when I was a little girl in Colombia, walking among the darkrooms of my family lab, the smell of the photographic chemicals marked my life forever. I grew up looking at the stunning Lithographs made from the daguerrotypes* from my great-great grandfather, to the glass negatives shot by my great-grandfather, and the photographs of my grandfather, my aunt, and my uncles. I loved listening all kind of fantastic stories about my ancestors' voyages during the 19th and 20th centuries, traveling from Europe to the Caribbean, to Central and South America.

My great-great-grandfather, Adolphe Duperly, was born in Paris 1801 and he was one of the earliest photographers in the Caribbean. He went to Haiti bringing the art of lithography, then he moved to Jamaica and opened his workshop where he printed not only from his own drawings, but he also made commissions from other artists.

As soon as photography was made public in France in 1839, Adolph where he embraced the new media with passion. According to advertisements, he established his photographic firm in Jamaica in 1840, just one year after the photographic process was made public for the first time in Paris!
He was known for his daguerreotype series titled “Daguerreian Excursions to Jamaica," They were exhibited in Paris in 1844. His son, Henri Louis Duperly continued his father's footsteps, documenting the construction of the Panama Canal and working as a photographer in Colombia beginning in 1876. Oscar Duperly, my grandfather and Adolphe's grandson, was the first dealer for Kodak in South America, he opened his Colombian photographic lab in 1915. sadly it closed in 2012, when digital photography took over the traditional process.

This amazing heritage is not only a privilege, but also a challenge. During my teen years I liked to take pictures, but I also loved to paint. It was very difficult for me to choose among the different art media, but my birthright won out. I studied with passion and received my diploma from The New England School of Photography in Boston. For many years I worked as a commercial photographer and teacher, but I never gave up my painting.

Now I am developing a new process that only a few years ago would have been impossible to even imagine. New technologies allow me to mix the mediums and explore a new world where reality and fantasy meet.

* The daguerreotype was the first photographic process. It was able to capture the image without the use of a negative in a highly detailed picture printed on a sheet of copper coated with silver.

Self-portrait of Adolphe Duperly

Henri Louis Duperly

Oscar Duperly