He was probably the first photographer to use Fox Talbot's calotype process in Jersey and some of his previously unpublished photographs featured alongside those of Fox Talbot in an exhibition at the Musée Dorsay in Paris in 2008 of the first photographs taken on paper in Britain from 1840 to 1860. Collie was born in Scotland in 1810 and was in business in Jersey in Belmont Road and Bath Street from before 1850 until 1878. A picture of Market Women in St Helier taken in 1847 and printed on salted paper survives in a private collection.
Biography from Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography
William Collie (1810-1896) was born in Skene, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in October 1810 and like many other early photographers, started his professional life as a portrait painter. He moved south and is recorded as living in St Helier, Jersey, before 1841, where he had a portrait business. He became one of the earliest photographers working in the Channel Islands, operating from Belmont House, St Helier, until 1872. Another photographer, J Collie, is recorded at the same address between 1861-64. This was probably his wife, or other relation.
Collie was not merely a provincial studio portrait photographer. In the late 1840s he made a series of genre calotype portraits depicting ‘French and Jersey Market Women’ which were well received by the photography critic of the Art Union (1 June 1847) who compared them to the work of David Octavius Hill. These studies were later exhibited at the London Great Exhibition of 1851.
In 1860 Collie is known to have made a photograph of the total eclipse of the sun, which occurred on 18 July.
La Société Jersiaise has a collection of his work.