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Trip to Kashmir

Bremner set off on his three-month trip across Kashmir from the railway terminus of Rawal Pindi. The distance of 200 miles up to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, he covered by tonga, a vehicle drawn by two ponies. Here he crossed the river Jhelum by means of a rope bridge, visited the ruined temples of Martund, Dhal Lake, Manasbal Lake ('the finest photograph of a sunset I ever produced was taken at Manasbal Lake. Combined with cloud effect, the result was wonderful'.), Islamabad, Ganderbal, and the Sind and Lidar valleys. Here he hired a houseboat for use as a temporary studio: 'It was in a house-boat that I rigged up a small apartment as a dark room and did all the developing of my plates which were 12 x 10 in. . . .' (p. 50).
It was November when Bremner reached Soonamung [i.e. Sonmurg], at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet, 'where there happened to be a fall of snow, and interesting were the pictures which I obtained there' (p. 52).
Traders from Tibet
Traders from Tibet
The highest point at which Bremner paused to take photographs was at the village of Phailgam, facing Mount Aru, at an elevation of 11,000 feet. Of course, Bremner was no pioneer, and was undertaking the trip merely to recoup his health and not in the spirit of exploration and adventure that had moved Samuel Bourne in the 1860s.

Mrs Bremner as Photographer

Bremner married around 1902, and his wife - he does not disclose her name - 'gifted with good taste, was greatly interested in the art of photography and gave every attention to reception room duties as well as applying her hand to use of the camera on the occasion of photographing a Purdah [i.e. 'behind-the-veil'] lady whose face . . . men are not allowed to look upon' (p. 80). She even assisted Bremner in photographing noblewomen. 'The Begum of Bhopal was visiting Simla and Her Highness expressed a wish to Mrs Bremner that she would like some photographs of herself to be taken at Bhopal. All arrangements were made and during the summer . . . we found our way to Bhopal, which was a long and somewhat weary journey from Simla. However, all went well, resulting in my wife securing some photographs of Her Highness in State dress which gave her every satisfaction' (pp. 80-81). Bremner also noted that 'on several other occasions Mrs Bremner had the pleasure of photographing Indian ladies of the Harem' (p. 81).

Postcards and Greeting Cards

Bremner also issued greeting cards for Christmas and New Year as well as picture postcards, though he does not mention these in his book. The greeting cards have actual photographs pasted on a thick board, with a message embossed in gold lettering at the bottom. Since they bear the inscription 'Bremner, Karachi', it seems as though Bremner started to issue them as soon as he set up his independent business in Karachi around 1889.

The picture postcards carry the names of cities where Bremner had his studios at the time of issuing them. Whereas the greeting cards of the type issued by Bremner are something of a novelty, most photographic firms were in the habit of issuing picture postcards of their works in the 1890s when this vogue was at its height. [12]

The photographs here reproduced cannot be precisely dated; all were taken between 1889 and 1923.  > Notes and References


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