Hogg, A.R. (1870-1939)


Alexander Robert Hogg was born on 1 March 1870 in the townland of Tullywest, near Ballynahinch, Co. Down. Little is known of his upbringing and education, but he started work as an assistant to his uncle, James Hogg, who was the proprietor of a successful grocer's and druggist business in Belfast. After learning the druggist trade at his uncle's, he was employed by the firm Dobbin & Co., where he remained until c. 1900. During these years his interest in photography developed, and he became a highly competent and well known local amateur. In 1895, he was awarded a prize medal by the Ulster Amateur Photographic Society for his lantern slides and, in 1897, he delivered a prize "lecturette" entitled, 'By the Banks of the Erne' to the YMCA Camera Club. In 1901, he opened his first studio as a "photographic and lantern specialist" in Trinity Street, Belfast. He was to stay here for the next 20 years before moving on to premises in High Street in Belfast City Centre in 1921 and then on to Great Victoria Street in 1934. Hogg enjoyed a highly successful career in the photographic business and engaged in the full range of opportunities open to a photographer of the early 20th century including portraiture, landscapes, product photography and advertisements. Important clients included the Northern Ireland Tourist Development Board, the Belfast shipbuilding firm, Workman Clark & Co, Chambers & Co., the Municipal Technical Institute, the Belfast Corporation, the Co-operative Society, and the fledging Belfast station of the BBC. By the time of his death in 1939, he was the doyen of his profession, with only one other studio in Belfast in existence longer than his own. During his life, Hogg was member of the Ulster Amateur Photographic Society, the Professional Photographers' Association, the Belfast Naturalist's Field Club, acting as the group's official lanternist, the Belfast Natural History & Philosophical Society, the Belfast Arts Club (forerunner of the Ulster Academy of Arts), the Ulster Arts Club and the Rotary Club. He married twice and was a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian congregation in Rosemary Street. He died on 25 August 1939 and was buried in the City Cemetery. Source: Caught in Time: The Photographs of Alexander Hogg of Belfast, 1870-1939, W.A. Maguire (Belfast, 1986); A Century in Focus: Photography and Photographers in the North of Ireland, 1839-1939, W.A. Maguire (Belfast, 2000)