This listing of the photographers and studios operating in Brisbane from 1855 to 1901, is an abridged version of the print publication 'Capturing Brisbane'.
Earley & Thornley
There is just a single recorded mention of this company in Brisbane during May 1887. The principal, Earley, was only identified by his surname. The other partner is believed to be Henry Thornley.
This photographer remains yet unidentified, though was presumably the principal of the company Earley & Thornley.
Little has been discovered about Edwards, one of the partners in the photographic business Rogers & Edwards. Not even an initial or forename is recorded, rendering it exceedingly difficult to determine where he was from or what became of him.
Elite Photograph Company
The Elite company was formed by photographer Edward Hutchison when he arrived in Brisbane in 1884. Eddie as he was known, leased 8 Queen Street Brisbane in April 1884 for Hutchison & Co’s Elite Studio, a name he had carried forward from an earlier Hutchison, Browne & Co partnership in Orange, New South Wales. The Brisbane studio opened on 24 May, Queen Victoria’s birthday, and the photographs taken were said to be ‘a la Boyd and Tuttle of Sydney, from whence we came.’ Hutchison claimed the photographic artists he employed were the best from America and Europe.
The studio’s portraits and landscapes won most of the prizes in the photographic competitions at Brisbane Exhibition in August 1884. From early November 1884 the name Elite Photo Co was used in advertising. On 9 December 1884 the Swedish artist Oscar Fristrom became a partner in the new firm Hutchison, Fristrom & Co, yet Elite Photo Co was still used in advertising. Fristrom was engaged in colouring portraits and producing oil paintings.
Expansion was high on Hutchison’s plan for his business. He opened a ‘Young Elite Studio’ in Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley in June 1885 which appears to have been only for a month. His partnership with Oscar Fristrom ended on 1 September 1885, just before a new Elite 8 Studio opened in Ruthven Street, Toowoomba. The company reverted to the Hutchison & Co / Elite Photo Co name combination. Alterations to enlarge the showrooms and dressing rooms at 8 Queen St Brisbane were completed by November 1885.
Eddie Hutchison released a prospectus in February 1886 for The Elite Photographic Company Limited, with an issue of 10000 shares at £1 each, and guaranteeing 20 percent return per annum. Despite proposing a board of well-known directors to guide it, the company was not floated. The Toowoomba branch ran into lease problems in May 1886 and narrowly averted having to close. At the same time an Elite Studio photographer was travelling in the Allora and Warwick districts offering carte de visit, cabinet portraits and life-size enlargements.
A branch of the Elite Photo Co was set up in Charters Towers early in 1887 and traded profitably under the management of William Bennett. In Brisbane the firm held an Anniversary Exhibition in May and Hutchison claimed that in the three years since opening the company had 10000 customers. He invited them back to examine a public exhibition of the firm’s work. All photographic works displayed were by Hutchison; water colours, oil paintings and crayons by Oscar Fristrom with whom he maintained a good relationship; water colours, oils, and mezzotint by Edward Fristrom, Oscar's brother who was working as an artist photographer for Hutchison; and landscape oils by artist Walter Jenner.
In June 1887 the Elite Studio in Toowoomba quietly changed hands, the existing manager John Platt and John Wiley forming a partnership to acquire it. Despite this it was not the best year for Hutchison. A controversy arose about the awarding of the Jubilee Medal for photography at the Brisbane Exhibition. The medal was awarded to his competitors A Lomer & Co and the details of the story are to be found in that entry. Suffice it to say that Hutchison objected, his objection was upheld, there was an appeal, and his original objection was stood aside. He was not forgiving of the perceived slight and kept the story of his loss alive for more than a year.
The sale of the Elite Studio in Charters Towers to Frederick Bernays in November 1887 presumably was beneficial to Hutchison’s business, though it may indicate he was in some financial difficulty. By December 1887 Eddie Hutchison had become the sole Queensland agent of the Phillip-Stephan Coloured Photo Process Company, Limited. It is most likely he paid a fee to get those rights, the Sydney inventors floating a similar photo-lithic company in 1888. The process does not seem to have been of value.
Prior to the Brisbane Exhibition in August 1888 Hutchison made it clear he was not going to enter in the competition because of his perception of what had happened the previous year. He made a point to list the credentials of his photographers, John Preston and Hutchison’s own half-brother Phillip Walker, and the artist Edward Fristrom. Perhaps in as much an effort to draw attention to himself as to draw funds into his business, he organised the Dore Art Union in late August, the prizes consisting of a dozen first artist proof engravings of Gustave Dore, supplemented with 26 water colour and oil paintings by the Fristrom family. 400 tickets were to be sold; however, the Art Union was withdrawn in early November and the ticket money refunded.
Work was carried out on the Elite Studio at 8 Queen Street in early 1889. By August however the company was in trouble, and a September auction was arranged for the disposal of an art collection and the business of the Elite photographic company including all plant. Elite was then acquired by John Brame.
Excelsior Photographic Gallery
See Edwin Brissenden
The Excelsior Studio commenced operation in Stanley Street, South Brisbane, in November 1893. The recently declared insolvent William Deazeley was later noted as the studio’s manager, but it appears most likely he established the business. The last encountered record of the studio was for June 1895.