Jewish Photographers in Belarus, late-19th to early-20th centuries

During the second half of the 19th-century, photography became very popular in the Russian Empire. New photography studios were opening in the large cities. As in other businesses, Jews became active in this new field.


Sculpture of early 20th century photographer installed in Minsk

About half of all photo studios in the Pale of Settlement, belonged to Jews in the early 20th-century.

In 1912, photographers did not need business licenses and, by 1914, more than 75% of the studios in Minsk, Grodno, Bialystok and Brest-Litovsk had Jewish owners.

It was quite common to print, on the reverse of the photo, information about the studio, its location, owner, services provided and awards the owner had received.

Here is the list of the 40 largest Jewish-owned photo studios, 1897-1904 in the towns and shtetls of Belarus:


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7 Responses to Jewish Photographers in Belarus, late-19th to early-20th centuries

  1. Sheila Rosenthal says:

    My mother’s father came from Slutsk in late 1800s. Last name Berkowitz. Father Issac and mother Minnie. There were 8 brothers. I have a picture of them which may have been taken then.

  2. Yelnik Catherine says:

    Thank you for this information. A relative of mine has a photography of our family taken in Mozyr around 1900.

  3. mike ainbinder says:

    I believe I have inherited many pictures from the Minsk area dating from appx. 1880-1900
    My Grandfather is from Minsk and was born 1901
    If someone has interest in these contact me

  4. Suzanne Hoffman says:

    My great great grandfather is Iosel Gofman. First time I have seen validation of his existence as a photographer. Aron, my great uncle, and his brother, Lazar, my great grandfather, we’re both photographers. One in Gomel, the other in Boston MA.

    • jhrgbelarus says:

      I am glad that you were able to find something valuable while reading our posts. Have you been thinking about coming to Belarus and learning more about your ancestors?

      • Suzanne Hoffman says:

        Yes, I am planning a trip to do research about the Gofman family. It will either be this Fall or next Spring.

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