The University of St Andrews holds an extensive collection of
Robert M. Adam's photographs dating from about 1902 to 1956,
with much of it available on-line. Click here for more information.
Robert Moyes Adam (1885-1967)
Robert M Adam was born in Carluke, Lanarkshire. At the age of fourteen he bought his first camera. In 1908 he had a half plate field camera made to his own specification, which he was to use almost exclusively for the rest of his life. He later acquired a 5x4 reflex and a Leica camera but these were only used sparingly. From 1901 until 1956, he compiled meticulous registers of his negatives and often annotated and even illustrated the negative envelopes. He produced great depth of field in his photographs by the use of very small apertures.
Having studied science at Heriot Watt College, he went on to develop his artistic skills at Edinburgh College of Art, and subsequently specialised in botany at the University of Edinburgh. In 1903 he was appointed assistant gardener at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, where he prepared lecture illustrations for the professor of botany. He also began photographing plants in 1906 and in 1914 was appointed assistant in charge of the studio. His post was regraded to that of 'botanist' in 1915 and he remained in this post until 1949.
It was as a landscape photographer, however, that he became known. Widely published, particularly in regular features in the Scots Magazine and many of the books published about the Scottish hills or flora during the 1940s and 1950s, his photographs display a uniformly high quality and form a documentary and artistic portrait of the life and landscape of Scotland - especially the highlands and islands.
The example below shows Schiehallion, with the RiverTummel at the exit to Loch Rannoch, August 1933.
His negative collection and original indices were acquired by the publishers of "The Scots Magazine", DC Thomson and Co, Dundee in 1958, who kindly gifted them to the University of St Andrews in 1987.
© Reproduced by kind permission University of St Andrews Library