Frederick Bell was one of several Southampton photographers who began their career as a photographic artist at the Ordnance Survey. Born in Southampton in 1844, he lived and worked within a short distance of the Ordnance Survey all his life. The 1861 census recorded him working as a gardener with his father.
By 1871 Bell was married with 3 children and working as a labourer at the Ordnance Survey. Ten years later he was recorded as a photographer in Lower Southampton Street.In 1884 photographic artist Bell,'Ed', was listed at the Southampton Street address. Incorrect abbreviations and names were not unusual in the street directories, and the census records. In 1887 he was correctly listed as Frederick Bell, photographer at 3 Southampton Street.
Bell's eldest son, Frederick, gave his occupation as apprentice surveyor for the 1891 census. Presumably Frederick junior was an apprentice at the Ordnance Survey. In 1901 Frederick senior was living with his family and working as a photographer in Castle street. By 1911 he had retired, and enjoyed a long retirement until he died in 1930.
No examples of portraits by Frederick Bell have been found so far.