Amateur photography saw a tremendous rise in popularity during the last third of the 19th century thanks to technical advancements. The work of Amélie Galup (1856-1943) is a significant example.
Married to a magistrate in the city of Albi, she taught herself photography in 1895 at the family home in Saint-Antonin-Nobleval, where she spent her vacations, turning the basement into a darkroom. She developed and printed the pictures she took of her husband, their two children and her family. Galup constructed a set in one room of the house, recreating the conditions of a portrait studio, backdrop and all, and invited her family and the local bourgeoisie to have their pictures taken. Farmers wearing traditional hats and clothing also sat for a portrait session. She loved depicting the world of children with their toys and costumes. Galup’s approach to photography was almost ethnographic. She took snapshots of people at work, everyday scenes and fragments of life.
She documented fairs, markets and festivals with her own brand of humor. Many of her photographs depict a fading, agricultural way of life. In other pictures, she tries to capture the movement and speed of familiar situations. During excursions to Albi, Saint-Antonin, Luchon, Royan, Biarritz, Arcachon, Marseille and Toulon, she took pictures of the landscape and the seascape.
In 1901, shortly after her husband died, she decided to move to Paris and continue her work as a photographer, focusing on family portraits. From 1895 to 1920, Amélie Galup produced over 2500 photographs. Her work was discovered during a sociological survey of the village of Saint-Antonin-Nobleval. In 1986, the photographer’s family donated her work to the State.