Julia Margaret Cameron

September 25, 2015
'Mrs Herbert Duckworth' (1872) © Julia Margaret Cameron/Courtesy Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs

Imagine photographs that “electrify you with delight and startle the world,” and one does not automatically think of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79). Nevertheless, she was the author of both the photographs and the rave review. Today we are more likely to be startled by Cameron’s brazen self-confidence than by her portraits and ‘literary’ fancies. The … More

Head On 2015

May 15, 2015
Sandro Miller, Annie Leibovitz/ Meryl Streep NYC, (1981), 2014

When a show draws a huge crowd to the Town Hall on a rainy Friday night it is testimony to Sydney’s booming interest in photography. The occasion was the opening of Head On, the annual photo festival that has grown to colossal proportions over the past few years. The influx of photographers and fans from … More

Trent Parke

April 25, 2015
Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971, Swan, Adelaide, 2007, © Trent Parke/Magnum Photos

Death and the photo are close relations, as every click of the camera records a moment that will never be repeated. What we tend to admire in a photographer is the ability to transcend this inherent morbidity, to take the stuff of everyday life and shape it into something strange and marvellous. No photographer could … More

The Photograph and Australia

April 4, 2015
Unknown, Australian scenery, Middle Harbour, Port Jackson, c. 1865

Some exhibitions should come with a ‘Buyer Beware’ warning. Many will go along to The Photograph and Australia at the Art Gallery of NSW expecting to see a comprehensive historical survey of Australian photography. The AGNSW has encouraged such expectations by using well-known images by David Moore and Olive Cotton in its publicity material. In … More

Learning from Peter Lik

March 14, 2015
‘Phantom’ by Peter Lik

One day, with a photographer friend, I wandered into the Peter Lik Gallery in Cairns. It felt more like a chintzy tourist restaurant than an art gallery. The lights were low, the walls painted a charcoal colour. The furniture was new and gleaming, music played in the background. Lik’s landscape photographs were hung thickly on … More


July 5, 2014
Chien-chi Chang. The Chain, 1993-99; installation view from the exhibition HOME; 45 works; silver gelatin photographs; each 157.8 x 107.3 cm. Photo: Brett Boardman.

Taiwanese artist, Chien-Chi Chang, introduces his photo sequence, The Chain, with a quotation from Dostoyevsky’s Diary of a Writer: “It is not by confining one’s neighbour that one is convinced of one’s own sanity.” He almost certainly found the line in the preface to Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation (1964), where it is paired with … More

Head On, Michael Johnson & Eva Breuer

May 31, 2014
Deborah Paauwe,
'Crown of Roses', 2013 @ Michael Reid Gallery

Moshe Rosensveig is the Dr. Frankenstein of Australian photography – Head On, the photo festival he started five years ago, has become a certified monster. There are no fewer than 37 ‘featured’ exhibitions and almost 70 ‘associated’ exhibitions spread across the city, involving an estimated 900 artists. The program also boasts 150 events, including workshops, … More

Elvis at 21

February 8, 2014
On train, New York to Memphis July 4, 1956 © Alfred Wertheimer. All rights reserved, NPG

In 1956 the United States had plenty to think about. World War II lingered in popular memory; the Cold War was in full swing; and in Montgomery Alabama, black citizens were boycotting the local buses in one of the first great campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. But the subject causing consternation in the mass … More

Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion

February 1, 2014
Edward Steichen 
American 1879–1973, worked in France 1906–23, Tamaris with a large Art Deco scarf 1925, gelatin silver photograph
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive © 1925 Condé Nast Publications

When Edward Steichen (1879-1973) accepted the job as Chief Photographer for Condé Nast publications in 1923 it was taken for granted he would work under a pseudonym. Already known as both a famous art photographer and a painter, his employer realised Steichen would probably not wish to be associated with the purely commercial work he … More

Richard Avedon: People

September 7, 2013
Richard Avedon, Elizabeth Taylor, cock feathers by Anello of Emme, New York studio, July 1964

“Youth never moves me,” said Richard Avedon (1923-2004). “I seldom see anything very beautiful in a young face.” This may sound strange, coming from one of the most celebrated fashion photographers of the twentieth century, but it pinpoints that quality which sets Avedon apart. He had a ‘hard’ definition of beauty, as opposed to the … More

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