James Presley Ball Sr. was a photographer, abolitionist, and also a businessman. He has taken portraits for P.T. Barnum, Charles Dickens, members of the family of Ulysses S. Grant, and even Queen Victoria.
James was born in Frederick County, Virginia in 1825. He lived his life being considered a free man, and learned daguerreotype photography from a man named John B. Bailey, who was from Boston.
James would eventually open up a studio after this type of photography, which involved a photographic image on a polished, silver-plated sheet of copper, and was sensitized with iodine vapors. Also, it was exposed in a large box camera, and then developed in mercury fumes, and stabilized with saltwater.
James also wrote books including one that gave a gigantic, pictorial tour of the United States. Also, ones that dealt views of the African slave trade, Northern and Southern cities, cotton and sugar plantations. Plus on several rivers, such as the Mississippi and Ohio.