John F Williams is not simply a street photographer; although he views the world with the quirky and spontaneous gaze so often associated with that genre. Williams began photographing in the 1950s, and has worked variously as an aeronautical engineer, magazine editor, historian and photography lecturer to support his art. Between 1973 and 1977 he was the photography critic for 'The Australian', and was appointed Senior Lecturer in Photography at Sydney College of the Arts in 1976. Williams' photographs are impeccably framed, with often just a limb, head or shadow of a human subject trapped in a visual play with text, signs and the formal elements of landscape. Reflections and mirrors are recurring motifs in his work, often used to abstract reality in layers of form. His more recent work develops techniques for recognising the passage of time in photography, including photographic series and photomontage.
'In the Louvre, Paris' 1976 reflects the candid, spontaneous nature of Williams' European series and wryly humorous aspects of people and places he found interesting.
gelatin silver photograph
21.4 x 31.7 cm image; 28.0 x 35.3 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r.corner sheet, black ink "J Williams". Dated l.l.corner sheet, black ink "... 1976".
Signed and dated u.r.corner verso mount, pencil "J Williams 76".
Dated l.l.corner verso mount "96".
© John F Williams
Shown in 3 exhibitions
John Williams Photographs (1989), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 11 Aug 1989–01 Oct 1989
John Williams 20 Years on the Street 1958-78, Byron Mapp Gallery, Paddington, 13 Aug 1997–07 Sep 1997
Australian postwar photodocumentary, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Jun 2004–08 Aug 2004
Referenced in 4 publications
Natasha Bullock, Australian postwar photodocumentary, Sydney, 2004. no catalogue numbers
Sandra Byron, John Williams Photographs, Sydney, 1989, cover (illus.), 73 (illus.).
John Lyons (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 01 Sep 1997, 19 (illus.).
Ewen McDonald (Editor), AGNSW Collections, Sydney, 1994, 82 (illus.).