Cabbies, Bridge Street, Sydney
New Zealand, Australia
30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953
Harold Cazneaux was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1878. His parents, Pierce Mott Cazneau and Emma Florence (née Bentley) worked in commercial studios in New Zealand before returning to settle permanently in Adelaide during the early 1890s. At the age of 18 Cazneaux went to work alongside his father at Hammer & Co studio as a retoucher. He moved to Sydney in 1904 to join the larger portrait firm, Freeman’s quickly ascending to the position of ‘chief operator’ (as camera portraitists were known). Studio work was highly formulaic, with little scope for creativity. Cazneaux used his time walking to and from work to experiment with pictorialist aesthetics 1.
Light falls dramatically diagonally dissecting this image. On the right-hand side in the foreground the cabbies and, their horses and carriages are captured as darkened, crisp figures. They cast long shadows over the cobblestone street. Softer light shrouds the sandstone architecture running from the mid-ground to the background of the photograph. Cazneaux’s was very much influenced by fellow Australian pictorialist photographer John Kauffmann, whose photographs he saw in an exhibition by the South Australian Photographic Society 1897 prior to his move to Sydney 2.
The Photographic Society of New South Wales organised an exhibition of Cazneaux’s photographs in 1909, the first such solo exhibition of its kind in Australia. In 1916 he and fellow pictorialist photographer, Cecil Bostock founded the Sydney Camera Circle. The group was particularly interested in the how pictorialism could be adapted to and extended within an Australian context. The mechanised, standardised and frenetic pace of Freeman’s increasingly took its toll on Cazneaux’s creativity and health, and he resigned in 1917. He moved with his wife and daughters to the Sydney suburb of Roseville, and in 1920 he was employed as the official photographer for The Home magazine. This new position let him work in a varied indoor and outdoor environments. In 1938 Cazneaux was awarded an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of London. He continued to work until his death in 1953.
1. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85
3. Edgar S & Newton G 1983, ‘Kauffmann, John (1864-1942)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, abd.anu.edu.au/biography/Kauffmann-john-6997, accessed on 17 Dec 2015
gelatin silver photograph
17.8 x 23.6 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Signed original mount and c. verso, pencil
"H Cazneaux". Not dated.
Gift of the Cazneaux family 1975
Not on display
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Project 7 - Harold Cazneaux: 1878 - 1953 (1975), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Aug 1975–28 Sep 1975
Harold Cazneaux, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Dec 1989–11 Mar 1990
Souvenirs of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 14 Mar 1992–10 May 1992
Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Jun 2008–10 Aug 2008
Referenced in 3 publications
Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Sydney, 2008.
Project 7: Harold Cazneaux 1878 - 1953, Sydney, 1975, (illus.). cat.no. 1
Philip Geeves presents Cazneaux's Sydney 1904-1934, Sydney, 1980, 22, 23 (illus.).