Henry Fox Talbot took the first photograph in 1835. By 1871, it was recorded that one of the great comforts of the working class was to have a photo of a family member who was working a long way off. The first cheap camera was invented in 1888 by George Eastman.
Mr Fairlie's photographs would have been in black and white, as the first colour photograph was taken in 1861 by the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell. Experiments and improvements in photography continued throughout the 19th century.