Herbert George Ponting 1870-1935

Born in England, Ponting's first commercial venture invovled moving to California to operate a fruit ranch. However, perhaps forewarning what his future luck would bring, the business ran into difficulty. He returned to England in 1898 with his wife, Mary Biddle Elliott, and their daughter Mildred.


Following his return, Ponting embarked on his second career as a photographer. He quickly became well recognised and reported on the Russo-Japanese war of 1904–05, after which he continued to journey around Asia.


Ponting was chosen to be the first professional photographer on an Antarctic expedition, as part of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition of 1910-13. He took over 1700 photographs of the expedition, many on a metal, folding quarter plate camera that was strong and light enough to be taken on sledging expeditions.


Ponting returned from this trip in February 1912 and was waiting for Scott so that his images could be used to illustrate Scott’s planned lecture tour. However, owing to the tragic end of the expedition, with the bodies of Scott and his companions found on the Ross Ice shelf in November 1912, Ponting’s images took on sorrowful connotations. Images of the expedition were used extensively in the press at the time, but they inevitably did not have the celebratory tone Ponting originally hoped for.