Hardman, Edward Fitzmorris Chambré (1898–1988), professional photographer, was born 25 November 1898, only son among four children of Edward Chambré Hardman, land agent, of Abilene, Newtownpark Ave., Blackrock, Co. Dublin, and his wife (m. 5 September 1893) Gertrude Elizabeth, of Castleroe, Co. Londonderry, daughter of John Quentin Davies, an army officer. His sisters were Gertrude Theodosia, Molly, and Audrey Phyllis. In 1894 the family lived at Crinken, Shankill, Co. Dublin, but soon settled permanently at Foxrock House, Foxrock, Co. Dublin. His father conducted the business of land agent from 14 Molesworth St., Dublin, where the legal practice of his grandfather, Townley William Hardman, solicitor, was also carried on. A number of members of the Hardman family, all qualified solicitors, were partners in the practice.
Hardman attended preparatory school, probably in Alexandra School, Earlsfort Tce, Dublin, and then St Columba's College, Whitechurch, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin. His father, a keen photographer who took family photographs and used photography in the course of his work to do with land tenure, loaned cameras to his son, who taught himself photography. Hardman's first such camera was a quarter-plate Sanderson stand camera. At Foxrock House he developed his first plates in the wine cellar and made prints in the apple loft. One of his photographs from this period is extant, ‘A farmstead, Carrickmines’ (c.1914), taken near his home. The young Hardman loved outdoor pursuits such as hunting and fishing, and he never forgot – and indeed later found inspirational – the memory of the beauty of the unspoilt landscape of south Co. Dublin, with the backdrop of the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, and the landscape of Co. Londonderry around his grandmother's home, where he spent summer holidays.
There were two career traditions in the Hardman family – to join the army and to practise law. When his father died (1917), leaving very little money, Hardman chose the army, sat the Sandhurst examinations, and went to India in 1918. He was trained as an officer cadet in India and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 8th Gurkha Rifles. He continued his interest in photography, processing films and making prints, and having the Amateur Photographer sent out to him. He photographed in the Khyber Pass and in Kerala. In India he met a fellow officer, Capt. Kenneth Burrell, and when in 1922 the authorities offered generous conditions to officers who wished to retire, they both agreed to return to Britain and set up a photographic studio.
The studio, trading under the name of Burrell & Hardman, was set up in 1923 in Bold St., one of Liverpool's most fashionable contemporary thoroughfares. Initially, Burrell seems to have taken an active part in the business, including working in the darkroom, but in 1929, when the firm was registered as a limited company, Burrell is not mentioned. In the 1920s the business thrived in a prosperous city with a large, busy international port. It became fashionable to be photographed by Hardman, prestigious sitters initially coming from a local society which Hardman joined, and in which he made the acquaintance of architects, painters, sculptors, and musicians. Early clients were Lord Derby, Diana Lady Duff Cooper, Professor Patrick Abercrombie of Liverpool University, and Sir Charles Reilly, who designed Port Sunlight. He also photographed visiting entertainers in the Liverpool Playhouse: entertainers who sat for him included, for example, Beryl Bainbridge, Robert Donat, Margot Fonteyn, Andrée Melly, Ivor Novello, and Michael Redgrave. The studio survived the economic depression of the 1930s. In the postwar years there were thirteen employed in the firm, with a branch in Chester. Hardman's photographs were used in the Sphere, Country Life, and the Tatler and he did commercial work for industry.
From the 1920s Hardman also practised a more creative genre, known as pictorial photography. The essence of this, which at the time was done on black and white or monochrome photographic material, was to treat the initial idea for a photograph as a beginning, and to use a variety of techniques which would best convey the idea – for example, choice of camera angle and lighting, use of contrast filters, choice of film developers, choice of paper surfaces and contrasts, negative retouching, print retouching, print cropping, and choice of photograph mounts. He also began to practise the technique of bromoil, which involved almost totally bleaching out a photographic print and then inking it to control the tones and highlights of the reemerging image. In 1925 he had acceptances in the London Salon of Photography, and continued to exhibit at the Salon throughout his life. In the same year (1925) he joined the Royal Photographic Society, and was awarded FRPS in his first year. He found material for this creative photography in the south of France, travelling there in 1926, 1928, and 1931. Provence was his favourite region, but he also went to Biarritz (1928). In 1930 he was awarded first prize by American Photography for ‘Martigues’ taken in Provence. In 1931 he married Margaret Mills, his studio assistant, and they regularly travelled to Scotland and Wales to seek landscape subject matter. He also found material for creative photography in the streets and around the port of Liverpool. He is renowned for his photograph of HMS Ark Royal in the course of construction in Liverpool docks, dominating the streets of the city. Hardman was aware of the work of contemporary practitioners of pictorial photography, such as José Ortiz Echagüe of Spain, Mark Oliver Dell of Britain, and Ansel Adams of the United States.
His wife Margaret, who was a photographer in her own right and a pillar of their photographic business, which Hardman fully acknowledged, died in 1970. He retired in 1976, and died in Liverpool on 2 April 1988. His house and studio are preserved in Liverpool and open to the public. His collection of photographs is held in the Liverpool public record office.