Roger Wood Photographic Collection

Collection: Roger Wood Photographic Collection
Reference code: ROH/WOO
Date: 1946 - 1983
Date notes: Materials have been dated from Wood’s negative registers or from research. A number of prints are dated on the back.
Level: Fonds
Extent: Black and white prints: 334 files of large prints and contact sheets; 158 files of proof prints. Black and white negatives: 230 files of 2.25" x 2.25"; 77 files of 4" x 5"; 45 files of 35mm (to date). Colour transparencies: 20 files of 2.25" x 2.25"; 37 files of 4" x 5"; 14 files of 35mm. 115 glass negatives. 16 files of documents (to date)
Scope and content: The collection contains prints, negatives, and colour transparencies of ballet, opera, and drama productions and portraits of dancers, singers, actors, authors, painters, and TV personalities. The majority of the collection concerns the resident companies of the Royal Opera House, and its touring ballet company. Wood’s photographs cover the Sadler's Wells Ballet/The Royal Ballet from 1946 to 1967, the Covent Garden Opera Company from 1946 to 1965, and the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet/The Royal Ballet Touring Company from 1946 to 1957. Wood also photographed other opera companies, such as the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and La Scala Opera, and other ballet companies, such as de Basil’s Ballet Russe, Ballet Rambert, Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo, Kirov Ballet, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, and the Royal Danish Ballet. In addition, he took studio portraits of many dancers, both in The Royal Ballet and in other companies. His photographs of drama companies are predominantly of the Old Vic and Royal Shakespeare Company. The collection also contains all Wood's photographs of Peter Hall's 1983 production of the Ring Cycle in Bayreuth, which led to the book 'The Ring: Anatomy of an Opera'. In the collection are Wood’s negative registers, some exhibition catalogues, papers relating to the negatives Wood deposited at the New York Dance Archives, and papers relating to 'The Ring' book.
Creator: Roger Wood
History/biography: British photographer Roger Wood (1920-2005) specialised in theatre photography and was particularly well known for his photographs of ballet. Born Alexander Roger Wood in Madras, India, on 6 August 1920, he attended Bradfield College, Berkshire, and became interested in photography at a young age. After World War II, his first photographic job was for Kodak as film production controller. In 1948, Wood left Kodak to set up his own photographic studio in Kensington. During this time, he photographed many leading ballet, opera and drama companies, and contributed to a number of books on these subjects. He frequently photographed productions at the Royal Opera House, as well as dancers in the Sadler's Wells Ballet, particularly Margot Fonteyn.
From the 1960s and 1970s, he produced several books on North Africa and the Middle East. From 1974 to 1988, he also worked as photographic consultant to the Ministry of Information in Oman, and his advice and photographs helped to establish the national museums in Muscat, Doha, and Riyadh. He was an active photojournalist, working for Picture Post and Sie und Er, and contributing to the Sunday Times. After gaining a pilot’s licence, he worked for Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners, and other engineering firms taking aerial photographs. He was a Fellow of the Institute of British Photographers, the Royal Society of Arts and the Photographic Society. He married his wife Rosemary in 1986. Wood died on 21 June 2005.
Archival history: Wood gave each exposure of the black and white negatives a unique reference number, which he usually noted on the back of the corresponding print to allow cross-referencing between prints and negatives. The 2.25” x 2.25” negatives have a code of four or five digits prefixed with an A, and the 4" x 5" negatives a code of four or five digits prefixed with a C (for example, A32164, C6532). These numbers have been transferred to the catalogue as 'photographer's own reference number' on both the prints and the negatives catalogue records. Wood’s negative registers list the reference codes in numerical order regardless of the initial letter.
The 35mm reference numbers have a six character code relating to the roll of film and the exposure. For example, 87V/320 reads as roll of film 87V/3, frame 20. For the purposes of cataloguing the negatives, the reference code is recorded only as the roll, e.g., 87V/3, while the records for the prints give the full code for each print, e.g., 87V/320. The 35mm negatives were housed in albums with paper inserts that act as the negative register. The initial numbers of Wood’s code explain the genre. For example, 82 was opera (albums 82, 182, 282) and 87 was ballet (87, 187, 387, 487).
Wood did not give the colour transparencies and glass negatives reference codes, and the collection does not contain registers for these materials.
Source of acquisition: Roger Wood bequeathed his archive to ROH Collections, along with the copyright. His widow, Rosemary Wood, deposited the archive in 2006.
System of arrangement: The collection is arranged into five categories: black and white prints, black and white negatives, colour transparencies, glass negatives, and documents. Roger Wood divided his print collection into files of large prints of varying sizes, with contact sheets, and files of small proof prints (4.5" x 6.5"). The black and white negatives and colour transparencies are also divided according to size: 2.25" x 2.25", 4" x 5", and 35mm. Wood stored his archive in a variety of files and drawers, which in general were organised by physical format, then by company and production. This original structure was retained but refined into a specific genre order: opera, ballet, drama, other. Within opera, the Royal Opera House's resident company is always first, followed by other companies in alphabetical order. Within ballet, the Royal Opera House's resident company is first, followed by its touring company, other companies in alphabetical order, and ballet artists. Drama companies and other areas are ordered alphabetically by company, followed by people. Within each company, files are arranged alphabetically by work and then chronologically by production.
Access conditions: The collection is available for viewing in ROH Collections by appointment only. Original prints and paper materials are accessible. The negatives may be viewed at the discretion of staff.
Language: English
Copyright: Copyright is owned by Royal Opera House Collections.
Condition: Good. A section of the 4" x 5" black and white negatives exhibit vinegar syndrome and have been scanned.
Publication note: Roger Wood Bibliography
Buckle, Richard (ed.). Katherine Dunham, her dancers, singers, musicians. London: Ballet Publications Ltd, c1949. Illustrated by Roger Wood and others.
Fay, Stephen and Wood, Roger. The Ring: anatomy of an opera. London: Secker & Warburg, 1984.
Higgins, John. Making of an opera: Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne. London: Secker and Warburg, 1978. Photography by Roger Wood.
Honor, Frost. How a ballet is made. London: Golden Galley Press, 1948. Illustrated by Roger Wood.
Morris, James and Wright, Denis. Persia. London: Thames & Hudson, 1969. Illustrated by Roger Wood.
Wood, Roger. A D'Oyly Carte album: A pictorial record of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. London: A&C Black, 1958.
Wood, Roger. Henry Moore (exhibition catalogue). München: V. Haus der Kunst, date unknown.
Wood, Roger. An introduction to Saudi Arabian antiquities. Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education, Department of Antiquities and Museums, 1975.
Wood, Roger. The New York City Ballet – in action. London: Saturn Press, 1952.
Wood, Roger, The Sadler’s Wells Ballet at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. London: Saturn Press, 1951.
Wood, Roger and Clarke, Mary. Shakespeare at the Old Vic: Hamlet; All's Well That Ends Well; King John; Twelfth Night; Coriolanus; The Tempest. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1954.
Wood, Roger and Clarke, Mary. Shakespeare at the Old Vic, 1954-1955. London: A&C Black, 1956.
Wood, Roger and Clarke, Mary. Shakespeare at the Old Vic, Volume IV: Timon of Athens; Cymbeline; Much Ado About Nothing; Two Gentlemen of Verona; The Merchant of Venice; Anthony and Cleopatra; Titus Andronicus; The Comedy of Errors; Richard III. London: Hamish Hamilton (member's edition), 1957.
Wood, Roger and Clarke, Mary. Shakespeare at the Old Vic, Volume 5: Hamlet; King Henry VI; Measure for Measure; A Midsummer Night's Dream; King Lear; Twelfth Night; King Henry VIII. London: Hamish Hamilton (member's edition), 1958.
Wood, Roger and Drower, Margaret S. Egypt in colour. London: Thames and Hudson, 1964.
Wood, Roger (photographs), Hall, John (commentary), Haskell, Arnold (introduction). The Theatre Ballet of Sadler's Wells. London: Phoenix House, 1948.
Wood, Roger and Wheeler, Mortimer. Roman Africa in colour. London: Thames & Hudson, 1966.
Records (3)