In 1972 the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry was given a collection of almost 5000 glass negatives of Lakeland scenes from the 1930s to 1960s taken by the photographer Joseph Hardman.
Hardman was born in Radcliffe near Manchester but moved to Kendal in 1911 where he joined the local Photographic Society and made the acquaintance of Clarence Webb. Webb further excited Hardman’s interest in photography and provided advice and guidance. As an amateur he sold a few of his photographs to local newspapers and the enthusiasm with which they were met probably played a part in encouraging him to make photography his main occupation.
Covering up to two hundred miles a week in a taxi, Hardman often worked freelance for the Westmorland Gazette. He tirelessly documented local events, personalities and traditions like the Lyth Valley Damson harvest. He also attended informal rural events like shepherds’ meets, cataloguing a way of life that was, even then, changing. His photographs appeared in local and national newspapers and magazines, as well as in several books, winning countless awards. He followed the seasons and the agricultural calendar, making use of particular lighting and weather conditions to ‘show up the changing moods of an area of high scenic wealth’.
His photographs often involve a single figure surrounded by breathtaking views of the hills and mountains, although throughout his career he disliked shooting the common type of portrait as well as wedding photographs. The relaxed stances of his ‘models’ are evidence of the extent to which he was known and liked locally.
- Joseph Hardman with his wife.