Thomas Donald McLeish was born in London on March 11th 1879. In 1893 he joined the photographic firm of Eliot and Fry as negative clerk. In 1900 he began teaching photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic. He joined the firm of Cowe Whelan & Co to make cigarette cards and in 1910 became a freelance photographer supplying photographs to journals such as the Illustrated London News and National Geographic. In 1916 he joined the RNVR and was sent as a photographer to Port Said. He took some of the earliest aerial war pictures. After the war he lived in Canonbury, London, and developed his library of some 3000 photographs, mostly of Europe and the Middle East. In 1939 he moved to Wimbledon. He died in 1950. McLeish made his own camera which took 5x4 glass plates.This was exhibited in the Science Museum, and is now at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford. His prints were in the 10x8 format, giving exceptionally fine detail.
All images © Donald Mcleish/National Geographic Society/Corbis