History

 

Studio-Lobby-1911-bw-1

Cleaning lady vacuuming 1911.

Wilson Studio has a 125 year history of photography in southern New Brunswick, Canada and spans the work of four generations of photographers. In 1877 Isaac Erb set up his studio in a second floor location at 13 Charlotte Street in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. For almost half a century, Erb photographed in his studio and even more extensively on location thoughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and parts of Maine. His only son, John Erb, joined the father’s business (subsequently called Isaac Erb and Son). John subsequenly inherited the business upon Isaac’s death in 1924. Isaac used glass plate negatives to make wonderful images which have now become a national treasure. Isaac Erb was a good craftsman and through his business, he was called upon to photograph shops and shopkeepers, homes and carriages of the rich, ships and shipbuilding, streets and road construction, civic functions and landscapes. In a sense, Erb was one of the pioneers of modern industrial photography. His son, John, continued the business for the next 15 years until his death.

Wilson Studio

In 1939 an ambitious 23 year old by the name of Lewis Wilson bought the Erb business from John’s widow and changed the name to Wilson Studio. Lew Wilson continued the business in much the same manor as the Erbs, doing commercial and industrial photography, but with the inclusion of photo finishing, picture framing, and sale of vintage (Erb) photos. Lew Wilson himself was a skillful technician and photographer. He took great black and white portraits and, like Isaac, documented much of the industrial and commercial growth of New Brunswick during his 42 years as a photographer. In 1981 Lew Wilson had an unfortunate accident on the job which disabled him from continuing his work as a photographer. James Wilson, Lew’s son took over the operation and made considerable changes to downsize and modernize, insuring the company’s future into the new century. He had the ownership of the historical plates of Isaac Erb transferred to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick where they are preserved as a national heritage photo source.

New StudioJames-Willson-in-studio

James built a new studio 30 kilometers from Saint John in beautiful Hampton, New Brunswick with photo art gallery, conventional darkrooms and digital production. His studio features design elements much like the original Erb studio on Charlotte Street with a large north light window. Much like Isaac Erb did, James uses this special window light for portraiture, product photography and still life work. Wilson Studio now is surrounded with beautiful gardens in addition to the spectacular views of the Kennebecassis River. James gives annual workshops in large format photography and retro-photographic processes from this beautiful rural studio location.