This listing of the photographers and studios operating in Brisbane from 1855 to 1901, is an abridged version of the print publication 'Capturing Brisbane'.
Walker, Philip Morton
Philip Walker was born in Queanbeyan, New South Wales. He was a younger half-brother of Edward Hutchison. Walker followed Hutchison into photography and by August 1888 was working for him atin the Elite Studio in Brisbane. He appears to have gone by the name Morton in his younger years.
When the Elite Studio in Brisbane was sold in September 1889, it is likely Philip Walker joined Eddie Hutchison in Rockhampton, where the latter opened the Dore Art Studio in January 1890. Walker purchased the Dore Studio from Hutchison in May 1890. He settled in Rockhampton and married there in 1893. Walker auctioned the business in March 1902, and the family re-established in Marrickville.
John Watson sailed from Scotland to America when around 16 years old. He reportedly learned photography while in America, and in the early 1850s made his way to Australia. In Sydney he joined Thomas Glaister’s photographic business. In early August 1855 Watson travelled to Brisbane to open a branch of Glaister’s Daguerreotype Rooms. He rented a room at the home of the Misses Slade in Edward Street, Brisbane, and there took portraits and conducted his business. Watson was able to provide portraits in morocco cases or timber framed and produce stereoscopic views. He returned to Sydney after a five-month stay in Brisbane, though how long he remained with Glaister is unknown.
Watson joined James Walker in what became Walker and Watson’s Photographic Gallery from late 1859 until November 1861. Watson returned to Brisbane where he opened his own photographic gallery in Queen Street in late March 1862. He also had cameras for sale, noting that he would instruct purchasers in their use. A panorama of Brisbane taken by Watson from the Observatory on Wickham Terrace, formed the basis of an engraving in the London publication Illustrated Times in May 1863. It was the first panorama of Brisbane published overseas raising the profile of the municipality and the photographer.
In January 1864 Watson’s Photographic Gallery relocated into a small wooden building a few doors further up Queen Street. Watson took a number of carte de visite photographs and stereoscopic views of the aftermath of fire that swept Queen Street in December 1864. Another fire the following year came close to destroying Watson’s building, the adjacent structures being pulled down to prevent the fire spreading. He was however able to resume business there, and it operated successfully through the 1860s.
In 1871 John Watson purchased Gowan’s book, music, and stationery store which he ran under the name of Watson & Co. His photography business continued, and he recruited mid-year for a photographer to undertake outdoor work. In December his new business produced ‘The Queensland Album’ a gift book of photographs by Edward Forster of Queensland scenery. It was not unusual for Brisbane photographers to sell their most commercial images through local booksellers, and it gave John Watson a considerable advantage to be able to expand his own photographic sales. He commenced production of a series of about 60 stereoscopic views of Brisbane, all his own photographs, in early 1872. By the end of the year he was advertising the stereoscopic series as well as a panorama from Bowen Terrace, and carte-de-visite of ‘aboriginal natives.’ Photographs taken by Forster during his time with the American and Australian Photographic Company were also available at Watson’s photographic gallery. Over the next few years Watson & Co published two albums of the Queensland scenery, usually timed to meet a Christmas market.
In April 1875 John Watson retired from the photographic business, selling to Metcalfe & Glaister. Watson & Co became Watson, Ferguson, & Co later that year, expanding into lithography and engraving. After a long working life John Watson and his wife embarked on board the steamer Quetta in February 1890, for a trip back to Britain. The vessel struck an unmarked rock off the north Queensland coast and was wrecked, and John Watson and his wife were tragically drowned.
Little is known of Webb, a photographer employed by Tuttle & Co in Queen Street Brisbane during 1887. He is mentioned just once in a newspaper article which described his patience and aptitude for photographing children.
Andrew Weddell appears to have been born in the north of England. He was with living with his brother in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1861 where he was first recorded as a photographer. He left Scotland for Melbourne arriving there in September 1863.
Weddell was in Brisbane by February 1864 to witness and photograph the flooding of the Brisbane River. These first flood photographs were stereoscopic views, and he was on the spot in April to take stereoscopic views of the fire in Queen Street. Weddell established his photographic business in Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, and soon advertised his carte de visite portraits ‘taken in the London or Paris style’. On the Queen’s birthday in May Weddell recorded a stereoscopic view of the presentation of blankets to Aboriginal people in Brisbane. Like many early photographers he took photographs of the local Aboriginals, and some were engraved and printed in a series distributed through booksellers in 1865.
Weddell’s business operated from the Ann Street address until around March 1874. By that time, it consisted of two shops and a house, which he offered for sale. In May 1874 Andrew Weddell boarded a steamer for Sydney and did not return to Brisbane. Nor did he practise photography in other parts of Australia. What became of him is not known.
West, Frederick Werner
Frederick West is believed to have trained as a photographer in England, as he commenced practise almost as soon as he arrived in Brisbane in 1898. He lived in Stanley Street, South Brisbane from 1898 to 1900, apparently working for himself. At least one of his images was published in the Queenslander in 1899. By 1900 West was a manager for Dimond Brothers a photo-enlarging company based in Spring Hill. He was in Charters Towers in 1904, still associated with Dimond Brothers, and continued his career in northern Queensland.
As early as June 1853 Wheeler and Co, Daguerrean Artists, were operating in Sydney. The Freeman brothers joined Wheeler at the end of 1854 that year, James Freeman bringing with him the new Collodion process and stereographic camera. Around February 1855 the partnership ended and John Wheeler moved on to Maitland until the end of July 1855.
Wheeler arrived in Brisbane to open the Brisbane Photographic Rooms in Rosetta’s Store, Albert Street on 27 August 1855. His opening advertisement offered locals many options and within days he offered portraits taken by ‘the skylight process’, said to be popular in America.
By October Wheeler was displaying daguerreotype landscapes including views of Sydney, North and South Brisbane, and other unspecified parts of the then colony of New South Wales, probably Maitland. Initially Wheeler he suggested he would close his Brisbane rooms on 1 December, then that he had been induced to stay open until 29 December 1855. In the last fortnight Wheeler’s advertisements encouraged the public to make the most of the opportunity as it was not likely to reoccur for some time.
By March 1856 had moved on to open for a short time new photographic rooms in Bathurst, New South Wales. John Wheeler may have returned to England later that year.
Frank (as he was known) Whittaker arrived in Maryborough, Queensland with his parents and siblings in 1870. Around 1888 Whittaker commenced a photographic business in Maryborough, presumably having received local training. He was joined by his brother Charles in 1892, as Whittaker Brothers, but was alone again in 1894.
In June 1895 Frederick Whittaker moved to Brisbane. He continued to work as a photographer in Brisbane though probably employed by a studio. He lived next to the Broadway Hotel on Logan Road, Woolloongabba from 1901 to 1905 though it is not obvious whether he was in business for himself. About 1906 he turned from photography to the boot making trade.
Wiley, John Samuel
John Wiley was born in Brisbane and worked for Lomer & Co from approximately 1880 to 1886. By 1887 he was in Toowoomba, probably working for the Elite Studio of Edward Hutchison. Photographer WJR Platt, who had managed the Elite Studio in Toowoomba since 1885, joined John Wiley as Platt & Wiley to take over the Toowoomba studio in June 1887. Wiley’s association with the firm was short-lived however and had ended by late December 1887. He returned to Brisbane where he commenced work for Tuttle & Co (qv) in 1888.
Around February 1890 Wiley purchased the Elite Photograph Company at 8 Queen Street, Brisbane from J Brame & Co. Wiley retained the Elite Studio name and enhanced the reception and dressing rooms and offered carte de visite and portraits ‘of the very highest excellence’. He initially operated the business with just his older sister Sarah Wiley who managed customers and office administration. The 1890 flood in Brisbane provided Wiley with an opportunity to demonstrate his skills in landscape photography, and his flood photographs were thought distinctive because he sought high ground from to take them, and consequently provided a unique overview. Business increased to such an extent in the first six months that he engaged photographer William Deazeley to assist in the studio. From October 1890 the business traded as Wiley & Co, though continuing to operate the Elite Studio.
After visiting southern studios John Wiley completed renovations to his studio in March 1891, adding a display vestibule, and updating the reception rooms and the gallery. The Elite Studio became Wiley’s Elite Studio from August 1891, the name staying in use until October 1892. William Deazeley appears to have left the firm around December 1891, and John Wiley was left the sole photographer. Deazeley’s sister who was also working for the firm, likely as a colourist, stayed with them.
Additional alterations to the studio were made in April 1892, and Wiley was better able to display his opaline, bromide and platinotype portraits. There had been steady increase in staff since opening and Wiley & Co had 15 employees by May. From October 1892 the studio finally dropped the word ‘Elite’ from its name, and it was then known simply as Wiley’s Studio.
John Wiley was taking photographs as Brisbane flooded in February 1893, and a sketch of the partially destroyed Victoria Bridge, and of a flooded Queen Street was taken from one of his photographs and reproduced in the Telegraph over the following days.
Alfred Le Sueur, former manager at Tuttle & Co entered a business partnership with John Wiley around March 1894. They traded as Wiley & Le Sueur from the existing Wiley Studio, though the trading name was rarely used, and Wiley & Co remained in use. The advantage of having another highly competent photographer in the business would have been considerable, as it appears only the two principals took photographs. In the wake of the economic depression of the early 1890s it is obvious Wiley was aiming his business at the monied class, and the firm’s portraits published in illustrated newspapers or put on display in the studio’s vestibule, were testament to that. Photographs of wedding parties of local society figures increased, and those of sporting teams, and religious and social groups of all types were in demand.
Wiley Studio advertising in 1895 promised a distinct change in fashionable portraits and advised a shipment of new studio backgrounds and accessories from England and southern colonies were in place. Much of the advertising was in fact reduced to the studio’s name and address, and the by-line of ‘Leading Artists in Portraiture’. It was used until the end of 1896.
Wiley and Co were invited upon arrival in April 1896 of Lord Lamington the new Queensland Governor, to take his portrait. The offer of a dozen cabinet photographs, and an opal enlargement was not unusual across Brisbane and to make a point of difference in 1896, Wiley offered a carbon picture with the dozen cabinets, suggesting the carbon was better than an opal. In a newspaper interview John Wiley noted that people would get tired if not offered something new, a reason he pursued the novelties.
Lady Lamington, the wife of the Governor, was incredibly popular in Brisbane and after photographing her with her infant son, Wiley placed the images in his vestibule display case. They attracted remarkable interest, and advertising encouraged visits to the studio to see them. The public fascination with the Lamingtons continued into 1897, and John Wiley had a moment of brilliance when he photographed the Governor’s son sitting on the leaf of a giant lily in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens in 1897. It was printed in the Queenslander soon afterwards. Imitations quickly followed.
Alterations to the Wiley studio were completed by May 1897 allowing a bigger office and vestibule, as well as more space in the reception room, dressing room and studio. The work rooms were moved to a new building erected behind the old one. Business was strong. The partnership between Le Sueur and Wiley however, was formally dissolved early in January 1898. No reason for the dissolution was ever advanced, though it may have been related to Le Sueur’s health.
During 1898 Wylie appears to have formed an enhanced relationship with the Queenslander, and many of his photographs were reproduced in that paper. The images were most often of celebrity figures and government officials, and an increasing number of local landscapes. The Queenslander had engaged him previously to take specific photographs, and the agreement may have been extended. What is believed to have been the first full-page portrait reproduced in the Queenslander was by Wiley of the late Queensland Premier, TJ Byrnes.
The Christmas novelties from Wiley Studio, which always remained for sale for some months, was in 1898 a framed circular opal in a plain oak frame with every dozen cabinet vignettes. In line with his belief of keeping new things in front of the public Wiley announced the introduction in 1899 of a Rouch hood and vignetting attachment to assist with his artistic portraits, and a new range of photograph mounts in all shapes. The studio was again extended in July 1899, by the acquisition of the neighbouring building and the demolition of the party wall. The juggling of various reception, dressing and work rooms enabled the whole of vestibule open to displays and access by the public. Part of the vestibule was turned over to the display of photographs of well-known oil-paintings, including those of the European master-painters. All were of course available for purchase.
The outbreak of war in South Africa in late 1899 and the subsequent decision by the Queensland government to send troops to the war, provided Wiley with many photographic opportunities. Portraits of local military officers adorned his vestibule, and a large panorama, nearly 2.5m long, of the departure of the 1st Queensland Contingent from Pinkenba hung above the entry to his vestibule. The image was also reproduced in half-tone in the Christmas Issue of the Figaro. Wiley took many photographs of the departing and returning contingents over the next three years of the war.
Wiley reached a commercial understanding with a new newspaper, the Queensland Country Life during 1900 and his photographs regularly appeared in its pages. At the end of the year John Wiley claimed he had doubled his annual business in three years, and gave his staff three extra days holiday over the Christmas period.
Portraits taken during the visit to Brisbane of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in May, and approved of by them, was likely a pinnacle in Wiley’s career. At least one newspaper advertisement led with the words ‘By Royal Command’ though that may not have been formally approved. Wiley’s belief in the prosperity of his business led him to erect a new brick photographic gallery adjacent to his existing one, and effectively quadrupled the space available for his business. The new gallery space was designed to be able to accommodate groups of up to 100 people. Furniture, backgrounds and accessories from London and New York filled the new space. The previous decade had seen the studio reach a very high standard.
Sadly, the following years were not as productive for Wiley & Co. A public floating of the company in 1903 saw it trade only until 1906. Wiley’s business partnership with Sturgess was brief, as was that with his brother William in 1908-09. He operated the business as a sole proprietor for another eight years. John Wiley, who had been unwell for some time, sold his business in late 1917, and just a week later he took his own life.
Williams, Herbert Francis
Little is known of the early life of this photographer, who was also known as Frank Williams. He was a partner in the photographic firm Jackson & Williams in Maitland from August 1883. By 1886 they were in Glen Innes and Tamworth. In late 1891 the firm was declared bankrupt, and the partnership ended.
Williams arrived in Brisbane and established a business at 244 George Street in April 1895. He advertised he would attend picnics, weddings, and private parties to take photographs of outdoor groups, which suggests his business did not have a formal portrait studio. He also provided bulk photographic views for scrapbooks by mail order. One series of views included Government and Parliament Houses, the Botanic Garden, and river views. Williams also offered a service for printing photographer’s negatives. Sport was his other interest, and he is known to have photographed football matches.
Frank Williams stopped advertising his George Street address in August 1895, and it was available for rent by June the following year. He continued to work as a photographer, possibly from his home in Stanley Street, East Brisbane. In 1900 one of his photographs of the 3rd Queensland Contingent to the South African war was published in the Queenslander. He had moved to 30 Turbot St, Brisbane by 1903 and was still working as a photographer, but whether self-employed or not is unknown. He may have ceased work after that date, and his movements have proven difficult to trace.
Wishart, Alexander Campbell
Alexander Wishart was one of only a few Brisbane-born photographers who worked in the city during the 19th century. Around 1891 he appears to have sought out training and a career as a photographer, though with whom is unknown. He may have been working from his residence in Confederate Street, Red Hill by the end of 1892. On 3 December 1892 Alex Wishart opened his own photographic studio at 221 Queen Street, Brisbane.
Working with a neighbouring printing firm, one his first jobs was to take photographs for a Brisbane Hospital pamphlet, the work produced to encourage donations to the hospital. Wishart also participated in and took many photographs of sporting events particularly cycling. He also photographed the opening ceremony of the Myora Aboriginal Mission Station on Stradbroke Island in June 1893. His photographs began to feature in the Queenslander from around this time.
Towards the end of 1894 the company name Wishart & Co came into use, lasting for about three years. The name Wishart’s Art Studio appeared in advertising from the latter part of 1896, around the time William Deazeley was supervising the business. Alex Wishart closed the Queen Street studio around March 1897, though he kept taking photographs for his own pleasure.
The younger brother of Alexander Wishart, George Wishart was also born in Brisbane. By 1891 he was gaining a reputation as an up-and-coming artist, and studying at the School of Arts Technical College. His oil painting of the gunboat Paluma stranded in the Botanic Gardens after the 1893 flood was exhibited at his brother’s photographic studio. It is most likely he worked at the Wishart Studio and by 1895 his occupation was recorded as a photographer. After the closure of the studio in 1897 he continued to work as a photographer, presumably for another firm. He also became a prolific artist, and his works were exhibited locally and interstate.
Alfred Wright was born in England, the eldest son of Ellen and George Parkinson Wright, photographer. Alfred had worked in his father’s studio in London until the family emigrated to Brisbane in December 1865. He joined the Post and Telegraph Service in July 1868 but resigned in January 1869 to acquire the photographic business of Daniel Metcalfe in Queen Street, Brisbane. He opened the studio in February 1869. Alfred Wright advised the Brisbane public that as an artist-photographer he was able to produce large portraits, coloured pictures, outside photography including residences and equestrian portraits, cartes de visite, and instantaneous portraits of children. Coloured portraits were advertised as his speciality, tinted, coloured, in watercolours or oils, and available on carte de visite.
By 1870 Wright was producing ‘life-size solar portraits’ which involved the projection of a photographic negative on a life-size canvas and rendering a coloured image in paint. Alfred Wright gave up photography in May 1871 and returned to a clerical position in the Post Office. His business was succeeded by Wright & Son.
Wright , Charles Albert
Charles was the youngest son of George Parkinson Wright. He, or his brother Thomas Wright may have joined their father in Wright and Son in Brisbane from 1871-72. At the first Queensland Exhibition in 1875 Charles exhibited photographic enlargements coloured with oil paint, for which he was awarded a certificate of merit. He also produced an illuminated address that was presented to Alderman McMaster in 1877. During this time Charles Wright does not appear to be working from a studio. From July 1880 to March 1883 he was likely a partner in Wright Brothers.
In May 1883 Charles Wright joined Mathewson & Co. Because of his well-known skills as a landscape artist, he was placed in charge of Mathewson’s outdoor work, which included photographing businesses and residences within 100 miles of Brisbane. He was last noted with Mathewson’s in August 1884, and it is not known whether he continued to operate with the firm as a photographer. Charles Wright was residing in South Brisbane at the time of his death in July 1889.
Wright , George Parkinson
George Wright lived in London where he was originally a warehouseman in the woollen industry. Around 1863 he opened a photographic studio at 12 Pall Mall East, London adjacent to the National Gallery. He took carte de visite portraits, many of them related to the local theatrical industry.
With his wife and five children he emigrated to Brisbane in late 1865 and soon established a sugar cane farm on the Albert River. He moved back to Brisbane in late 1870 and from June 1871 to the end of 1872 he took over the photographic studio previously worked by his son Alfred Wright, operating it with another son as Wright & Son.
The floods that swept Brisbane in June 1873 may have inspired Wright to take out his camera again, capturing images of the city under water. Later that year he took photographs of a monument erected over the grave of Governor Blackall, and copies were sold through a Queen Street bookseller. Wright was resident in James Street, New Farm by 1874, apparently operating his photographic business from his house. He did not have a studio and preferred customers to contact him by post. Much of his recorded work at this time appears to have been landscapes or outdoor groups, such as the series he took for the Captain of HMS Barracouta in February 1875, and those of the Acclimatisation Society’s gardens in Bowen Park. His landscape submissions to the first Brisbane Exhibition in 1875 gained him a first prize in the photographic competition. Wright also photographed the opening of the Exhibition that year and produced an Intercolonial Exhibition Photograph Album.
A portfolio of 12 scenic views entitled ‘Brisbane Illustrated’ was printed by Wright in 1877 and sold from Harrison’s in Creek Street. He also gained the patronage of the Queensland Governor Sir Arthur Kennedy during that year, enhancing his public profile. He then produced another album of 12 views of the Second Intercolonial Exhibition held in Brisbane in August 1877. At that Exhibition he won first prize for his collection of landscape photographs. During 1878 George Wright opened premises in Creek Street, in the annex of the old School of Arts building. His son Thomas Wright also worked with him. It was from here that he published a second series of photographs entitled ‘Brisbane and Environs Illustrated.’
Wright continued to win prizes at the Brisbane Exhibition for his group photographs and landscapes. He took the official photographs associated with the visit of the Princes Albert Victor and George in August 1881, large versions of which were printed by Lomer & Co. Wright worked from his Creek Street premises until 1881-82 when he relocated to 162 Elizabeth-Street in the city. In 1883 he was in Roma Street, apparently the last year in which he practised commercial photography.
Wright , Thomas Parkinson
Born in London, Thomas Wright arrived with parents and siblings in Brisbane in 1865. The third son of George Wright he may have joined with his father in the photographic studio Wright and Son during 1871-72. He stated he was in business as a photographer from circa 1874, in Creek Street, Elizabeth Street, and Roma Street, suggesting he was working with his father during that time.
Thomas Wright was also a partner of Wright Brothers from July 1880, working in Elizabeth Street from October 1881. That partnership with Charles Wright continued until March 1883. Thomas Wright was by then living in Ashford Cottage, 21 Upper Edward Street in Spring Hill, from which he began to operate his business. He took out an advertisement in a local newspaper seeking photographic work, which he apparently gained. A decade later he was paying canvassers to locate work and offering to process amateur’s negative or take outdoor images. He remained at that address until about 1903 when he moved to 464 Upper Edward Street, Spring Hill. He worked as a photographer from the new address until at least 1915.
Wright and Son
The firm Wright and Son, Artist Photographers, was likely formed when Queen Street photographer Alfred Wright gave up his business and returned to work in the General Post Office at the end of May 1871. His father George Wright became the main operator; however, it is not clear which of his other sons Charles Wright or Thomas Wright joined him in that venture. The photography business continued from Alfred Wright’s former studio in Queen Street, however the expansion required additional expenditure on new cameras and studio equipment.
Solar portraits which had been introduced by Alfred Wright were still offered by the new business. Early the following year carte de visite of a superior quality were offered because of newly acquired London-manufactured apparatus for the studio. It also enabled the company to employ a new instantaneous photograph process that was particularly suitable for portraits of children.
Wright and Son barely survived 1872 however and the business complete with 4000 negatives, including those from Daniel Metcalfe and presumably Alfred Wright, as well as cameras, lenses, stands, backgrounds, and assorted furniture was auctioned on 13 December 1872.
This company was formed by brothers Thomas Wright and Charles Wright, sons of George Wright. The brothers had gained experience working with their father in Brisbane. The firm were appointed photographers at HM Gaol in Brisbane in July 1880, in place of William Bennett whose contract had been cancelled. From October 1881 they worked from a studio in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane. While there is some likelihood that the firm may have operated longer, Wright Brothers can only be confirmed to have been working to March 1883.