This listing of the photographers and studios operating in Brisbane from 1855 to 1901, is an abridged version of the print publication 'Capturing Brisbane'.
Benjamin Taylor was born in New South Wales and moved to Queensland in 1880. He married Laura Harris in Warwick and opened a store there for Beale & Co, sewing machine and piano manufacturers. Sometime later than 1886 he joined photographer Henry Thornley, trading as Thornley & Co, probably in South Brisbane. This was most likely when Taylor gained experience as a photographer. That partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in October 1890. A month later Taylor was working with Peter Hyllested in the Vandyke Studio in Stanley Street, South Brisbane. His length of time with Hyllested is unknown, however the Vandyke Studio closed around the time Taylor appeared in Ipswich in 1892 with IXL Studio.
Benjamin Taylor continued in the photographic business in Ipswich for many years and opened a branch in Boonah. Taylor formed a partnership with Albert Mouland in 1905 operating as Taylor & Mouland in both Brisbane and Ipswich until June 1906, after which it was run by his wife Laura Taylor as Taylor’s Studio.
Noted in Brisbane in May 1887, Henry was a partner in the photographic firm Earley & Thornley. During 1889-90 he resided in South Brisbane operating Thornley & Co in partnership with photographer Benjamin Taylor. Thornley was living in Cornwall Street, Coorparoo in 1892, however little else has come to light on his photographic career.
John Thurlow was born in England where his father was a builder. The family emigrated to Sydney in 1867, where he married in 1880. He was in Brisbane for a time in 1882 and again in 1886. He opened a bicycle shop in George Street, Brisbane in 1887, supplementing his income by framing pictures. When his shop was mostly destroyed by fire in November 1887 Thurlow found a new property on the corner of Sheriff Street, Petrie Terrace. Manufacturing picture-frames became his primary business through 1888, and he moved into the enlargement business by the end of the year. It is not clear whether these were photographic enlargements or art works.
John Thurlow entered a business partnership with Thomas Shephard around May 1889, and as Thurlow & Shephard, sought to acquire photographic equipment and increase their staff. Despite the economic recession of the early 1890s the business prospered. An attempt to sell the gallery and business in March 1895, however, was not successful. Thurlow and Shepard parted ways after a fire destroyed their business premises in 1896.
Thurlow subsequently manufactured chairs before turning his hand to making timber Venetian blinds. The firm of John Thurlow and Sons became synonymous with Venetian blinds in Queensland, and the company continued for decades after his death in 1925.
Thurlow & Shephard
The firm Thurlow and Shephard was established around May 1889 by John Thurlow and Thomas Shephard. It operated from premises on the corner of Sheriff Street and Petrie Terrace already being used by John Thurlow. The partnership also operated under various and changing studio names including the New South Wales Photographic Company during 1890-95, and the New Photo Company in 1892-94. The partnership did not survive long after a disastrous fire at their Petrie Terrace address in March 1896.
Tissington, George Anthony
George Tissington made his way to Australia from England during the late 1860s. It is possible he was an amateur photographer as he was displaying images prior to the opening of his newly constructed photographic studio in Wagga Wagga in September 1873. It was later named the Sydney Portrait Studio and Tissington worked in the studio until the end of 1873.
He worked as a commission agent, attempted to start a photographic business in Brickfield Hill, and took a licence on a hotel. None of these ventures appear to have been successful and he made his way to Singleton where in July 1875 he first started the Frisco Photographic Co. The company did not operate for long and Tissington travelled in 1876 to the Queensland gold mining town of Thornborough before moving to Townsville.
George Tissington decided to embrace photography again in August 1877, initially setting up in George Street, Brisbane opposite the Lands Office. He aimed specifically at country visitors to the city during the Brisbane Exhibition period, photographing their livestock on the grounds. By the beginning of September, he had taken a lease on the former Samuel Duesbury studio in Queen Street, which he soon named the Frisco Photographic Company. Tissington leaned towards landscape views and always advertised his interest in taking them in town or country. In November he produced a series of gem photographs of major public buildings in Brisbane, marketing them as suitable for sending ‘Home’. Although not unique to him, his advertisement to photograph, on order, tombstones at the Brisbane cemetery points to a very Victorian interest in death.
The Frisco Photo Company moved to Ipswich in March 1878, ending Tissington’s brief connection with Brisbane. For the following five years he was constantly on the move across Queensland and was working at a recently acquired studio in Rockhampton when the tuberculosis he suffered took hold. He moved to Gladstone for a fortnight’s rest, but sadly died there in January 1883.
Toppin, Albert Joseph
Albert Toppin was born in Brisbane, gaining photographic experience at an early age with an unknown employer. At 19 years old he opened the Dora Studio at 91 George St, Brisbane around August 1899. The premises had most recently been occupied by photographer Thomas Matthews. Toppin ran Dora Studio until 1903. He was noted as a newspaper proprietor from 1905, though he turned to photography for just a few years from 1910 to around 1913.
This studio was established in Brisbane by William Farrell early in 1896. The Tosca trademark was registered in February 1896 and the former Tuttle & Co studio at 67 Queen Street was redeveloped and opened with much public fanfare on 4 March 1896. James Brown was one of the first Brisbane staff, one of the 28 claimed to be employed by the firm across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Charters Towers. New studios in Rockhampton and Gympie were opened by September 1896. Over time, and across the colony, Tosca staff also included experienced photographers and artists such as John Fegan, Stuart McGee, John Sansum and John Pickering.
By the end of 1897 Tosca boasted some dramatic statistics across the colony, including the production of 13000 portraits, 5000 bromide enlargements, and 10000 opals since opening. The staff, which included those working in the company’s George Street framing workshops, had grown to more than 60. Further evidence of the expansion came with the registration of the Tosca trademark in New South Wales in July 1898, and Stuart McGee opened the Sydney branch on the Strand in October.
While studio photographs were certainly a priority for the firm, many of their images taken and reprinted in the Queenslander, or other illustrated newspapers, were of outside places or events. The mobilisation of military volunteers for the war in South Africa from 1899 to 1902 ensured Tosca photographers were very mobile. An arrangement with the Queenslander saw Tosca contracted to photograph all the enlisted men from the 2nd Contingent and subsequent contingents.
On 31 May 1900 the firm opened a new studio at 127 Queen Street, Brisbane, on the corner of Albert Street. The growth of the business is evident in the size of the building which contained the frame factory in the basement; frame displays, framing rooms, an office, and the vestibule to display photographs on the ground floor; printing and processing rooms on the second floor, and the upper floor held photographic rooms and reception areas for customers. Artificial lighting ensured photographs could be taken in the studios by night or day.
The visit of the Duke and Duchess of York and the Imperial Contingents in 1901, and the death of Queen Victoria, also provided Tosca with expanding options. The company introduced the York, Victoria, and Empress panel sizes, and even a York medallion. The latter, like enamel button photographs of earlier days, was mounted on a rounded metal disk, secured by a coating of celluloid, and mounted on a wire stand.
The Tosca Studio in Charters Towers was acquired by Mathewson & Co in July 1901, and a new Tosca branch was opened in Newcastle in 1902. William Farrell became chairman of Tosca Limited when the company was registered in Queensland in May 1903. In June 1905 however, at an extraordinary meeting of Tosca Limited it was revealed that the firm’s liabilities would prevent it continuing business. Tosca Limited was voluntarily wound-up. On 12 July the goodwill, stock-in-trade, furniture, fittings, and book debts of the business were auctioned. The photographic and framing business in Brisbane was acquired by Lynn Studio, which also took over the surviving Rockhampton branch in 1906.
Tuttle, William Nutting
William Tuttle was born in the United States of America and worked as a photographer in various American cities from the early 1860s to 1879. He left his wife and children and sailed for Australia around 1880. Between 1881 and 1895 he progressively established Tuttle & Co photographic studios in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and several regional centres. He lost control of his Melbourne business in 1883, and his partnership in Sydney was dissolved in 1886 with his partner there also retaining the operation of the studio.
Tuttle was in Brisbane in 1885 to open the new studio and is known to have visited again in 1886. He appears to have disposed of his Brisbane company prior to 1889. Tuttle remarried in Sydney in 1889 to Elizabeth Oxborough, and her artist brother William had become a business partner in Tuttle’s seemingly profitable photographic empire. Tuttle was rumoured to have invested poorly in a mining venture, leading to the loss of his Sydney business, and he and his partner were both judged insolvent in Victoria in 1889. Tuttle and his wife later ran a small photographic studio in Parkes, New South Wales until William died in 1895. Elizabeth Tuttle is believed to have continued in the business.
Tuttle & Co
Established by William Tuttle and Sydney photographer Alexander Marshall, Tuttle & Co acquired the business of John Deazeley at 67 Queen Street, Brisbane around November 1885. The identity of the first manager is not known. Extensive alterations were carried out over a few weeks, the firm boasting the largest operating and reception rooms in Brisbane. It opened around December 1885, pushing its artistic style in carte-de-visite and porcelain enlargements.
At the 1886 Brisbane Exhibition the firm’s photographs were disqualified from the competitions because the company name was visible. The disqualified photographs were exhibited to popular acclaim. The Brisbane floods of January 1887 were captured by Tuttle’s photographers, and were not only available for sale but were also featured with those of other photographers in a limelight exhibition to raise funds for victims of the floods.
Alfred Le Sueur became manager of Tuttle & Co, Brisbane from around 1888. This likely coincides with Tuttle disposing of his Brisbane operation, and Le Sueur may have been the purchaser, though the original company name was kept. Le Sueur was a cyclist and Tuttle & Co coincidently began to sponsor prizes for many bicycling and athletic events, as well as actively photographing sporting groups. A photograph of the Ipswich athlete McGarrigle, taken by a Tuttle & Co photographer, was one of the first reproduced in the Queensland Figaro and Punch in January 1889. A Tuttle photograph of the Custom House during the March floods of 1890 was also reproduced in the Queenslander. The publication of these attributed images represented a valuable advertisement for the firm. The art photography of Tuttle and Co was skilfully marketed to the public during 1890 with by-lines such as ‘Graceful posing, artistic lighting, and excellence of finish guaranteed’ applied to the purchase of even a dozen cabinet photographs.
A set of six cards containing Christmas and New Year greetings were produced by Tuttle & Co at the end of 1892. This popular series featured Aboriginal people gathered by Archibald Meston from across the colony and brought to Brisbane as part of a travelling show. The images were staged in outdoor settings to meet white colonial expectations. Tuttle and Co’s last paid advertisement was in August 1893. There is no evidence the business was sold on, rather it seems to have wound down and simply ceased operation without public notice.