This listing of the photographers and studios operating in Brisbane from 1855 to 1901, is an abridged version of the print publication 'Capturing Brisbane'.
James Patching is believed to have started his career as a photographer in Brighton, England, and later worked for Mayall & Co’s Royal Photographic Studio in London. Patching emigrated to Australia and worked in Sydney and Maitland. He moved to Brisbane in 1883 and by June he had taken up a position as gallery manager with Mathewson & Co, at 221 Queen Street, Brisbane.
For seven years Patching remained with Mathewson & Co, severing his connection around July 1890. In October he opened The Little Studio in the Wesleyan Book Depot Chambers, 37 Queen Street, Brisbane. Patching survived the worst years of the economic depression and in April 1897 he took a lease on 221 Queen Street, Brisbane. From about the middle of 1898 his newspaper advertisements began to appear under the name of Patching & Co, though the company name does not seem to have been used past 1901.
Several of his photographs appeared in the Queenslander during 1898-1901, a mix of news-worthy images and popular artistic studies. Around 1904 Patching relocated his studio to 352 Queen Street, Brisbane, and a decade later was operating from Patching Studio in Edward Street, Brisbane.
Patrick, Arthur William
Arthur Patrick was born in Victoria and was a photo-enameller in Carlton at the time of his marriage in 1886. He travelled to Brisbane in 1896 and worked in a rented house in Montague Street, South Brisbane. The house was destroyed in October when Patrick was heating gelatine on a gas stove and the floor beneath caught fire. He appears to have left Brisbane and returned to Melbourne for a time, and over the years made frequent trips between both places. He returned to Brisbane in 1897 and rented at 7 Union Street, Spring Hill. This became his residence and workplace when in Brisbane until 1901. When he returned permanently to Carlton in 1902, he continued as a photo-enameller for some years, then turned to the manufacture of advertising buttons and badges.
People’s Photo Gallery
See Ellis Sutton
Pickering, John David
John Pickering’s father Alfred emigrated to Australia with his family to join his brother Charles Percy Pickering, a photographer in Sydney. Alfred also turned to photography and operated with his brother Charles before striking off on his own. Photography was a way of life for John Pickering and a least one of his brothers, Alfred Pickering, who presumably learned their trade from their family.
John Pickering was employed by Tuttle & Co in Sydney probably from 1883, then with Gowie & Pickering’s New Palace of Art in George Street, Sydney. John Pickering was declared bankrupt in May 1888 and may have worked for Charlemont around this time. He worked in a series of studios in New South Wales until he arrived in Brisbane in September 1893. He obtained employment with Poul Poulsen until June about 1896. Pickering was then appointed manager of the Rockhampton branch of the Tosca Studio and remained there until late 1901. He was in Brisbane and Toowoomba in 1902 and then returned to Sydney.
Pitchforth, Charles Husband
Charles Pitchforth arrived in Victoria in the early 1880s probably already a trained photographic operator. He was likely the owner of the Victoria Studio in Hawthorne, when his young wife died in 1886, not long after the birth of their son. He sold the business to WN Tuttle before sailing for England in December 1886. He returned to Australia six months later and in October 1887 was aboard the Sydney-bound coastal steamer Cheviot when it was wrecked in a storm off Point Nepean. Less than half the passengers survive, and Pitchforth was the last to be rescued. He literally lost everything except his trousers in the shipwreck.
For the next few years Charles Pitchforth battled with alcohol and struggled to find stability in his life. He was in Brisbane in March 1894 and skipped bail on a charge of disorderly conduct, travelling to Bundaberg where he bought a sugarcane farm. By 1900 he appears to have turned his life about and returned to Brisbane where was again working as a photographer in Stanley Street, South Brisbane. He had moved to Fortitude Valley by 1905 where he was knocked down by a butter-cart. Though he didn’t sustain serious injury the accident appears to have destabilised him for some time. By 1912 he was again working as a photographer in Junction Road, South Brisbane.
Poochee, Bingingee Sorabjee
Bingingee Poochee was born in Bombay, India and reputedly opened his first photographic business there in the late 1850s. He emigrated to Australia and from September 1863 Poochee opened a photographic gallery in Ipswich, but within a few months moved to Brisbane. He opened his new gallery in Bulcock’s Buildings, Queen Street on 21 January 1864.
Poochee may not have stayed in Brisbane any later than March 1864. He relocated to Ipswich and opened a new photographic gallery there around November 1864, where he remained until 1872. For a year or so he retired from photography, and farmed sugar cane in the Walloon district. He returned to Ipswich and his photographic business from 1874 to 1877. Poochee then travelled through other Queensland towns including Maryborough, Gayndah, and Townsville before moving to Sydney. Around 1900 he was in a photographic partnership with his son in Parramatta.
Poulsen, Mads Hansen
Mads Poulsen arrived in Australia at the age of 15 and was apprenticed to a carpenter in Sydney. He worked in that industry for the early part of his life. It is probable that he learned the art of photography through his brothers, either Anders Poulsen, Anton Poulsen, or Poul Poulsen during the early 1880s. Mads Poulsen was reported to have worked for his brother Poul in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, presumably when the travelling firm Poulsen Brothers roamed that colony between 1887 and 1893. He was working again for his brother Poul in October 1897 when he had charge of the opals and enlargements branch at the studio in Queen Street, Brisbane. Mads Poulsen opened the Swift Photographic Studio in Ipswich for a few weeks from May 1900. By July 1900 he had established a new studio in Warwick and there he settled.
Poulsen, Poul Christensen
Poul Poulsen emigrated from Denmark to Sydney in 1876 and found work with the American photographic firm Gove & Allen in 1879. He worked in their Melbourne studio and then managed their Adelaide branch. By February 1882, but probably earlier, he had acquired the former Gove & Allen American Studio in Adelaide which he worked with his brother Anders Poulsen.
Poul Poulsen returned to the Gove & Allen fold in March 1882 when he took on management of the firm’s new studio in Smith’s Building at 7 Queen Street Brisbane. He was then despatched north in April to establish a Gove & Allen Flying Branch in Maryborough. Most of the Gove & Allen studios were not intended to be long term ventures, and Maryborough was no different, lasting only to November 1882. Poulsen returned to Brisbane in time to prepare for opening another Gove & Allen studio in Toowoomba in the New Year. The Brisbane studio was closed around mid-December.
Poulsen stayed in Toowoomba until the end of April 1883 when that studio was closed. He returned to Adelaide and re-joined his brother at the American Studio, working there until June 1883. He managed another Flying Studio for Gove & Allen at Grafton from June to October, then in Newcastle until May 1884. Poulsen moved to Brisbane in early December 1884. For a short time the Gove & Allen American Studio at 7 Queen Street reopened from 7 March to the end of July 1885.
In August Poulsen acquired the Queen Street business, using the American Studio name occasionally into the following year, but usually advertising under his own name. His product range included the usual carte de visite, cabinets, copies, opal enlargements, ferrotype portraits and gems. It was from this time he adopted the by-line of ‘the People’s Favourite Photographer’, which he used until the end of 1886.
From about 1887 Poul Poulsen also had an interest in the firm Poulsen Brothers with his brother Mads Poulsen (qv). This firm operated in various towns across northern New South Wales until 1893. In 1888 Poulsen supplied the full-page landscape photographs for Midgley’s publication The Queensland Illustrated Guide for the use of Farmers, Fruit Growers, Vignerons, and others. It was published in Queensland and in Britain.
Heavy rain in August 1889 gave Poulsen an impetus to record local flooding, photographs of which were also saleable items. Flooding in Brisbane during March 1890 was to an extent not experienced by most residents. Poulsen’s photographers spread across the city and suburbs to record the event. Some of their photographs were reproduced as sketches in Queenslander newspaper and were also available for purchase from the studio.
The growth of the business induced Poulsen to acquire the shop next to his existing studio and fit it out as show and waiting rooms. The additional premises opened on 3 May 1890. Advertising in newspapers was increasingly important for Poulsen, and he appears to have been able to ensure there were often ‘news’ articles that mentioned his company and products. ‘Photos at Poulsen’s’ became a regular feature in the Telegraph from 1891. It may have been a paid advertisement however it read like an article and mentioned who in the upper levels of Queensland society had been recently photographed at the studio, or the features of a particular style of artistic photography.
The flood waters that engulfed Brisbane in early February 1893 rose more than 3 meters high than that of 1890 and led to wider devastation and loss of life. Poul Poulsen was commissioned by the North Queensland Register to provide photographs of the flooding for their illustrated newspaper. One of the first public showings in Brisbane of Poulsen’s flood pictures was given by magic lantern at a fund raiser in late April for the Woolloongabba State School. In September 1893 Poul C Poulsen opened a branch studio in Mary Street, Gympie, operating under his name though managed by his brother Christen Anton Poulsen.
The high quality of the studio’s work led to its selection to join with the Telegraph newspaper and Pole, Outridge & Co printers, to produce a chromolithographic supplement to the newspaper of Brisbane and its surroundings. Poulsen’s photographs were the basis of the lithograph and the studio’s artists provided the colouring. The popular prints were issued from December 1894.
The Poulsen Studio was renovated again by December 1895, with new dressing-rooms and waiting room, new equipment, accessories and backgrounds, and better ventilation including two electric fans. Queensland’s new Governor, Lord Lamington, arrived in Brisbane in April 1896, and was photographed informally by Poulsen at Government House. By May the formal photographs had been taken and Poulsen again received vice-regal patronage.
Poulsen’s Model Studio was opened in Maryborough in June 1897 as another country branch of the firm. A shop in Kent Street was transformed into a smaller version of the Brisbane premises, complete with a vestibule in which the firm’s best photographs were placed on display. To cement the year’s success for the business Poulsen’s received six special and first prizes at the Brisbane Exhibition. In 1897 Mads Poulsen (qv) also entered the Brisbane business, where he specialised in opals and enlargements.
Poul Poulsen established flying studios on the Darling Downs during 1898, in Allora, then Roma. He also worked with the Outridge Printing Company on an illustrated publication on Queensland for distribution at the Greater Britain Exhibition. Photographs of the Brisbane region were apparently personally prepared by Poulsen, including some below ground in mines. He acquired a special flash-lamp for that work. During 1899 the Queen Street studio was elaborately renovated, features being a new decorated glass roof over the studio vestibule, and incandescent gas lights.
In 1900 there was a marked change in the manner Poulsen advertised his business. The long descriptive newspaper advertisements were replaced with single sentence entries, sometimes three different one-liners, appearing almost daily in Brisbane papers. This likely indicates Poulsen had accepted the brand recognition of his business and services had been sufficiently established.
The celebrations associated with the Federation of the Australian colonies on 1 January 1901, and the visit of the contingent of Imperial troops to Brisbane at the end of the month kept the studio busy. Poul Poulsen was one of the few professional photographers given access to the Duke and Duchess of York when they visited Brisbane in May 1901 following Federation celebrations in southern colonies. Poulsen was able to take official portraits while the Royal party were staying at Government House. Further extensions to the studio were opened in August 1901 at 14, 16 and 18 Queen Street, doubling the space previously available for the Poulsen studio.
The firm continued strongly in Brisbane into the 20th century. A fire at the Gympie branch in April 1903 destroyed most of the contents and the premises. The remainder was auctioned, and the branch was not re-opened. The Maryborough branch was sold in April 1904 to William Rose, a Townsville photographer. Poul Poulsen retired at the beginning of 1918, and spent his retirement on his grazing property on the Mary River.
Oronzo (sometimes Orenzo) Presa was born in Italy and claimed to have been the Decorator of the Royal Palace in Naples and of the Governor’s Palace in Malta, as well as a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Naples. He arrived in Brisbane in 1884 where he set up as a painter, sign-writer, and house decorator. By 1886 he was advertising as a portrait, landscape, and banner painter, with the ability to renovate old photographs. It was not until 1889, when Presa introduced a quick method of teaching painting in three lessons that he began to achieve local fame. He also supplemented his art classes by enlarging and colouring carte de visite portraits up to life size.
Presa began to tour regional towns in 1889 before returning to reopen a studio at 186 Queen Street, Brisbane. From 1890 he began a long tour of Queensland and New South Wales, and then Tasmania by the end of 1893. In Bathurst in 1894 he also began teaching photography and retouching, as well as photo enlargement techniques. He finally returned to Brisbane in May 1897, where he opened a studio at 43 Queen Street from which he conducted his art classes and specialised in photographic enlargements. He stayed in Brisbane until the end of 1897 before returning to New South Wales.
Preston, John Howard
John Preston was the son of Robert H Preston, a celebrated photographer in Penzance, England. John likely worked for his father in the studio and was reputed to be a graduate of the Royal Technical College, London. He married in Plymouth in 1886 and a son was born to the couple in 1887. Not long afterwards John Preston travelled alone to Australia.
Preston was working for the Elite Studio in Brisbane by September 1888, Edward Hutchison describing him as one of only three ‘artistic posers’ in Brisbane. After the Elite Studio closed around August 1889 Preston opened his own business in West End, Brisbane the following month. He designed and produced his own Christmas and New Year cards containing local photographic views of Brisbane, Moreton Island, and the Tweed River, as well as native flora. Preston was also experimenting with double-printing, producing cards with a second image overprinted, a style that was popular with stationers. Preston also took a series of photographs of the 1890 Brisbane flood, with an emphasis on South Brisbane streets. Preston did not advertise his business in newspapers while in Brisbane, nor did he appear in any directories, preferring it seems to rely on occasional newspaper articles, local knowledge, and word of mouth.
In early 1892 he left Brisbane for Roma where he remained until 1897 before moving to Aramac and then Clermont. Around 1899 John Preston returned to England to the wife and son he had left behind twelve years earlier. He became a leading photographer in Penzance.
Price, George Farren
London-born former soldier George Price took an appointment at Pentridge Gaol in Victoria, however when that was not to his liking he moved north in 1862 to join the Queensland Native Mounted Police. He served in that role only for two years but remained in the Queensland civil service working in various towns across the colony for the next 17 years. His wife died in Brisbane in 1885 just after the couple returned to the capital.
At age 72 Price took the surprising step to set up a photographic company. There is no evidence he had any experience in the field, so presumably that skill rested with his business partner A Carter. In late 1885 the two ran a studio for a short time in Maryborough, before returning to Brisbane. George Price returned to Victoria in 1887.
Price and Carter
This partnership was likely formed in late 1885 between George Price and A Carter. It may have operated in Brisbane for a short time before the partners moved to Maryborough in August 1885. They appear to have returned to Brisbane in January 1886, but no address has been found. Price and Carter had moved away by January 1887.
Robert Pumphrey (sometimes Pumfrey) emigrated to Brisbane from England in early 1886. He found work with photographers Lomer & Co and was their representative on the Darling Downs by November 1886 taking orders for photographs or enlargements. In Warwick and Toowoomba, he also advertised his ability to photograph buildings, groups of people, and landscapes. By 1890 Pumphrey was one of Lomer’s operating photographers, a role he continued in until about 1898. He then moved his family from Brisbane to Adelong, New South Wales where he set up a photographic business in January 1899. He was noted for his local landscape photography.