National Media Museum blog

We explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on our lives.

Christmas photographic advertising from the 1950s

Christmas is a popular subject in the Photographic Advertising Limited archive. The photographs, unsurprisingly, suggesting joy, goodwill – and overspending.

Glamorous woman holds present beside Christmas tree, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Glamorous woman holds present beside Christmas tree, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Photographic Advertising Limited was founded in 1926 by a group experienced in photojournalism and film. The company created multi-purpose stock images with the potential for selling a range of products. Their trademark, the staged studio photograph resembling a film still, was its selling point – and later its downfall.

Little girl looking at Christmas tree, c. 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Little girl looking at Christmas tree, c. 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Sophisticated, adaptable and generic, this kind of image gradually fell out of favour as clients increasingly demanded targeted advertising campaigns with specific photographs.

Photographic Advertising Limited closed their doors in 1977, and their archive – a time capsule of marketing images from mid 20th century Britain – is now part of the National Photography Collection.

Father Christmas checking his list, 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Father Christmas checking his list, 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Couple with Christmas presents, c. 1958, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Couple with Christmas presents, c. 1958, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Woman looking through a window at a Christmas tree, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Woman looking through a window at a Christmas tree, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Family carrying Christmas presents, 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Family carrying Christmas presents, 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Woman and girl decorating a Christmas tree, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Woman and girl decorating a Christmas tree, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Decorated Christmas tree in living room, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Decorated Christmas tree in living room, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Couple carrying Christmas presents, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Couple carrying Christmas presents, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Father Christmas carrying a sack of presents, 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Father Christmas carrying a sack of presents, 1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Woman reading Christmas cards, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Woman reading Christmas cards, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Man surprising a woman with a Christmas present, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Man surprising a woman with a Christmas present, c.1950, Photographic Advertising Limited © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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About Emma Thom

As the Senior Web Content Coordinator, I help our online visitors to explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image and its impact on our lives.

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