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World Photography Day

Capturing a moment and making it infinite – that is the art of photography. Whether taken by an amateur or a professional, photographs enrich our lives immensely. Today, on World Photography Day, we celebrate the art, craft, science and history of photography.

Our collection at the Jewish Museum contains the works of a multitude of incredible photographers. One photographer family that was especially influential in London’s Jewish community were the Perkoff’s. A collection of thirty photographs shows the Perkoff’s work and family life over the span of forty years.

Isaac Perkoff with his wife Anna and their eight children in the garden of their home in London which was also the site of Perkoff’s photographic studio.

The Perkoff family firm started with Michael Perkoff, Isaac’s father, who ran a photographic studio in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1887, the family emigrated to Britain fleeing the anti-Semitic pogroms in their home country. Isaac soon took over his father photography business.

Isaac not only photographed his many clients, but also made sure to capture his family’s everyday life. This photo shows the Perkoff family enjoying a snowy day in London.

 

And this photo of Isaac and Anna’s two youngest children, Michael and David, was taken in the garden of the family house.

Apart from photography, Isaac was mainly active in two areas: anarchist activism and Yiddish Theatre. He joined several anarchist and socialist organisations and, from time to time, wrote pieces for the anarchist newspaper “Arbeyter freynd”. Isaac also wrote reviews of Yiddish theatre plays. He was very close with playwright Abraham Goldfaden, dubbed the “father of Yiddish Theatre”.

This is a photo Isaac took of Goldfaden at one of his studios. The wreath of leaves contains the titles of songs and plays Goldfaden wrote.

Isaac was no stranger to photographing Jewish celebrities, as this photo of Prof. Albert Einstein from 1920 proves.

The Perkoff photographic studios shaped London’s Jewish community for decades. It documented the lives of many people, well-known or not, and inspired iconic East End photographers such as Boris Bennett. Therefore, it is only logical to honour the Perkoff family’s impressive body of work on this World Photography Day.

Isaac Perkoff holding a writing pen and paper.

Ever since the beginning of photography, photos are inextricably linked to memories. At the Jewish Museum, we are remembering the Perkoff family and all the other talented photographers that have found their way into our collection. What beautiful moment are you going to capture today to remember one day?