Edgar Lilienfeld

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Edgar Lilienfeld (b. Eastern Cape, 22/10/1886 – d. Johannesburg, 25/07/1977) was a photographer and ran a photographic studio.


Edgar Lilienfeld was the son of German-born Ernest Lilienfeld and Anna Maria Stahl, who came from Middelburg in the Cape Province. In 1902 E. Lilienfeld & Co. were wholesale merchants in Market Square, Pretoria. Lilienfeld obtained his first camera at the age of 14 and, at the time of the South African War, took photographs of the Raadsaal, Lord Kitchener and of generals Beyers and Kemp, which were purchased by a correspondent of The Times of London. When World War I broke out he was up in Central Africa photographing wildlife. He promptly returned home and became General Smuts’s personal photographer, travelling with him during the East African campaign. He also accompanied Selous and Pretorius on some of their big game excursions.

He is said to have shot some of the first newsreel films shown in the local cinemas and took the first aerial photographs of Johannesburg. In 1912 he shot one of the first fiction films to have been produced in South Africa. Called I.D.B., it was directed by Frank Fillis Jr. According to the Rand Daily Mail, it was primarily shot in Sachsenwald (Saxonwold) and the boulder-strewn kopjes around Johannesburg. It was first shown at the Grand Theatre on 12 November 1912 to a specially invited audience. He was the founder of the first film-processing laboratory in South Africa and for many years ran a successful photographic studio in Johannesburg. He was married to Vera Furmidge. (J.L. Humphrey, the cameraman who later worked for African Film Productions, started in the film business as an assistant to him.)


Rand Daily Mail, 16 January 1963

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