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Tourism and photography

The new royal residence of Balmoral contributed to the growing appeal of Scotland as a tourist destination. As visitor numbers grew, so too did the demand for photographic souvenirs of the landmarks and views helpfully identified by publications like Adam & Charles Black’s series of guidebooks. Wilson’s success as a landscape photographer depended on his ability to produce photographs that captured the nostalgia and romance of a landscape previously conveyed by artists, writers and musicians.

Wilson also saw the commercial potential of stereoscopic photography. Stereoscopic photographs gave viewers a three-dimensional image, allowing them to ‘step’ into a landscape from the comfort of their own home. Wilson’s widespread marketing of his photographs in hotels and train stations was highly effective and his extensive catalogue of views helped sustain the nineteenth-century stereoscopic craze.

In a bid to keep up with photographic innovation, Wilson experimented with a new wide-angle lens. This led to the introduction of a larger size of print. Wilson then maximised his profits by using existing negative stocks to make photographic souvenirs in a variety of sizes.