Hugh Rayner

I studied Photography at Colchester School of Art in the early 1970’s, before starting a career as a professional photographer; primarily working  in the travel and cruise ship industry. In 1973, I moved to Bath; where I have been based ever since, (inbetween travels).

    I first visited South Asia in 1975; spending 3 months travelling the overland route; via Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan & India, to Nepal. This proved to be a seminal influence on my life and I have been returning there ever since, at regular intervals; travelling repeatedly to India, Nepal, Tibet, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India; attempting (sometimes successfully) to capture something of the beauty of the region on camera.  I have developed over the years, a passionate love of the region, and especially the mountains of the Himalaya; which have become virtually a second home.

    In the early 1980’s I spent some time back in England, including a year doing an Honorary Fellowship in printmaking at Bath Academy of Art, as well as working as a professional photographer; also interspersed with periods doing other work, including stage manager for an alternative theatre company and teaching Photography at f Stop Photography Workshop in Bath, and at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol.

In 1986, having always been an obsessive reader; I found myself slowly transforming into an antiquarian book dealer;  initially exhibiting at Book and Antique Fairs; later briefly opening a small book shop in Bath, (only to rapidly discover that I am not a shop-keeper by temperament or inclination!) 

    I  then  returned to exhibiting at Book fairs, in London and around the UK, and was a member of the PBFA for over twenty years; becoming ever more specialised. In 1992 I started amail order business, issuing regular catalogues of books solely on  India & South Asia.

Although I have now largely given up antiquarian bookselling, to concentrate primarily on collecting, researching and writing about, (as well as dealing in), fine early photography from India and South Asia, I do still maintain a very small specialist stock of fine and rare antiquarian books, prints and maps, of India & South Asia, for sale. I also retail a limited range of specialist new and out-of-print books, sourced mainly from India; which are available on my companion website.

    In 2000, I established Pagoda Tree Press; initially to specialise in republishing early Indian & Himalayan Guide books and other obscure reference works, that were otherwise now unobtainable. This has grown to become an increasing part of my business, as I have slowly learnt the subtle art of publishing, from its most basic elements; and am now working, on an increasingly varied and more exciting range of publishing projects, some of them completely  new titles and others, reprints of rare works; primarily on the history of Photography in India, otherwise long out of print.

I have set up a new Vintage Photograph Fair in Bristol, ( which it is planned will take place twice a year, spring and autumn.The next fair will (pandemic permitting) take place on Sunday November 7th 2021.

Hugh Rayner