Annan’s bookplate engraved by D.Y. Cameron is adorned with engraving tools rather than photographic reflecting Annan’s photographer-engraver skill and practice.
‘I do not work to any fixed code of rules,’ says Annan, ‘but by the inspiration of the moment. I might make a rule today, but should probably change it tomorrow. A photographer should hold himself ready to take advantage of any opportunity, the eye should be quick to grasp a suitable subject. I learned more in regard to composition from Japanese work than from anything else. I aim at dignity, harmony and breadth, and endeavor to avoid subjects cut up with little shining high lights. As to socalled fuzzytypes, I do not approve of them, and am not guilty of throwing the picture out of focus. I believe in enlarging; none of my pictures are taken greater than whole-plate, and many of them are of still smaller original dimensions. As regards framing, I must have freedom of shape, and license to cut the print to a suitable size, not to a uniform standard. In landscape work I have studied Whistler, and for portraiture Velasquez, while my associations with many artist friends of what is now called the Glasgow Impressionist School have led naturally to broad conceptions. You may have noticed the motto on my book plate, ‘Art is to conceal art’ – that applies to photography – it is not usually the most striking photograph which represents the most genuine work.
Buchanan, William, and J C. Annan. The Art of the Photographer: J. Craig Annan, 1864-1946. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1992. Fig. 12
National Gallery of Scotland Accession number P 1401
Matthew Surface. ‘Our Leaders. No. 30. James Craig Annan’. The Practical Photographer, vol. 7, no. 78 (June 1896), p. 152-57.