As a young man, Emil Vieler travelled to the United States, visiting New York and other large North American towns. On his return to England, Emil Vieler found employment in the Bradford studio of Albert Sachs, a German-born photographer. Albert Sachs (born c1842, Berlin) ran a successful studio in Manningham Lane, Bradford.
In 1874 Emil Vieler married Sarah Russell (born 1849, Bradford, Yorkshire). [Marriage registered in Bradford during the Second Quarter of 1874]. The newly weds travelled to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, where their first child, Beatrice Gertrude Louise Vieler, was born towards the end of 1874 [Birth registered in Cheltenham during the Fourth Quarter of 1874].
Emil Vieler returned to Yorkshire and established a photographic studio in Huddersfield, at King Street, on the corner of Zetland Street. In later publicity, he claimed that his Huddersfield studio was established in 1875.
Advertisements on the reverse of his cartes-de-visite (visiting cards) proclaim that Emil Vieler was an “Artist in Photography”, and a “Miniature & Portrait Painter” but Emil was not a portrait painter in the conventional sense – he probably did what many photographers did during the 1870s and 1880s, just painted over enlarged photographic portraits. In fact, he indicates that this was his practice in the wording at the foot of one of his advertisements – “Portraits enlarged to any size and finished in water colour or crayon”.
Sarah Vieler gave birth to a second child, a boy who they named Francis Victor, early in 1877 but, unfortunately, he died before the end of the year. The following year, another son, Herbert Charles Vieler, was born and he survived into adulthood, becoming a professional photographer, like his father.
In the summer of 1880, a second daughter was born and was given the name of Florence Isabel Vieler.
In the census of 1881, Emil Vieler, his wife Sarah and their three surviving children – Beatrice, aged 6, Herbert, aged 2, and nine-month old baby Florence – were residing in living quarters attached to the photographic studio in King Street, Huddersfield. Emil, aged 30, describes himself as a “Photographer”.
The following year, 1882, yet another daughter was born – Ada Beatrice (Bertha) Vieler.
Around 1877, Emil’s brother Rudolph Wilhelm Vieler, also a professional photographer, had moved down from Bradford to Eastbourne on the Sussex coast. It seems that Emil Vieler may have received encouraging reports from his younger brother about the opportunities available to portrait photographers in Sussex seaside resorts, because by 1892 Emil and his family were living in Bexhill-on-Sea, a holiday resort only about ten miles from Eastbourne, where his brother Rudolph had his studio.
According to a directory printed in 1893, Emil, at the time, was working in a studio in Bexhill, called ‘Imperial Studio”. The only information given as to an address is, “from Railway Station to Belle Hill, right hand” – the town was still in its infancy and growing but streets were being built and awaiting names.
The 1895 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex lists “E. Vieler” under the heading of “Photographers” in the trades section of the directory and the address of his studio as “Station Rd, Bexhill”.
In 1899, another directory gives Emil Vieler’s studio address as 11 Upper Station Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. Emil Vieler and his family are recorded at 11 Upper Station Road, when the 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. Emil Vieler is recorded on the census return as a “Photographer (own account)”, aged 50. Herbert Vieler, Emil’s twenty-two year old son, also describes himself as a self-employed photographer.
On 23rd August 1898, Emil’s eldest daughter, Beatrice Gertrude Louise Vieler married a young draper named William Hobden (born 19th August 1875, Herstmonceux, Sussex) at Bexhill. After their marriage, Beatrice and William left Bexhill and set up home in Worthing, West Sussex. Beatrice’s two unmarried sisters – twenty year old Florence and eighteen year old Ada – were still living with their parents in Upper Station Road at the time of the 1901 census. Florence and Ada Vieler never married. Florence Vieler died in Eastbourne in 1961 and her sister Ada died seven years later in 1968.
Around 1910, Emil Vieler established a new studio at 26 Station Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. Emil Vieler is listed as a photographer at 26 Station Road, Bexhill in trades directories up until 1913. In fact, Emil Vieler passed away in 1912 and after the 1913 edition was published only his son, Herbert Vieler is shown as a photographer at this address.
In 1912, at the age of sixty-one, Emil Vieler died of heart failure at his residence at Rembrandt House, Station Road, Bexhill. Emil Vieler’s death was recorded in the Battle Registration District during the 4th Quarter of 1912. The local newspaper’s report of his death described Mr Emil Vieler as one of Bexhill’s “oldest trademen and most respected residents”. Among the mourners at Emil Vieler’s funeral were his son Herbert Vieler and his wife Emily, Mrs Beatrice Holden, Emil’s eldest daughter, and her husband William Hobden, his two unmarried daughters Florence Vieler and Ada Vieler and Emil’s brother Rudolph Vieler.
Emil published many real photographic cards of Bexhill and district. These are generally labelled on the back “Emil Vieler, Photographer, Imperial Studio, Bexhill-on-Sea” and on the front “Vieler, Bexhill-on-Sea”. The captions were handwritten on the negatives, usually in very small, block capitals that lack any embellishment. On some cards, however, the captions have been written by someone who favoured larger capitals and embellished the letters “E” and “L” with short descenders curving to the right. Possibly this was Emil and it was his son Herbert who was responsible for the plainer and more microscopic captions.
Many of the Vieler family history details were provided by Adrian Vieler (Henfield), the grandson of Ernest August Vieler, who was the youngest half-brother of Emil and Rudolph Vieler.