Emil Otto Hoppé (1878–1972) is my kind of photographer. He was incredibly prolific, producing a huge body of work which spans many people, places and subjects (not likely to be pigeon-holed then).
He was not only a portrait photographer, as he was also known as a topographic and travel photographer. I am particularly interested in his travel photography, mainly because the images he took throughout his life document different kinds of places (from Indonesia to Australia) and show them in a different light.
What drove Emil Otto Hoppé to take photographs abroad?
Unfortunately, the records held at The National Archives aren’t necessarily going to provide in-depth or exact answers to that question. Even if you may not find all the answers to the questions asked in the course of your research, it shouldn’t stop you from asking (and looking) anyway. That’s the mystery of archives. Records don’t always tell you all the answers. They can be mysterious and enigmatic, and can often raise more questions.
It doesn’t mean you aren’t going to find any records though. The records I found relating to Emil Otto Hoppé by searching The National Archives’ catalogue capture his movements to various places.
Moving to London
Hoppé first came to Britain to train as a financier in 1902, but later turned his hobby of photography into a career with great success. German by birth, the naturalisation case paper file in HO 144/1169/214766 reveals that he was born in Munich. It also provides personal details like his parents’ names and the signature of the applicant.
Some naturalisation case paper files may contain police reports which summarise the general character of the applicant and other details such as where they lived. Hoppé’s case paper file provides a brief summary of his places of residence, and therefore help us track some of his movements within London.
By the time he was naturalised in 1911, he already established himself as a commercial photographer based in Baker Street, London. The summary to the report held in the case paper file is ‘favourable. Applicant is a well-known photographer’.