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Australian art


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Light pattern, camera in motion

circa 1948
printed 1997


David Moore


06 Apr 1927 - 23 Jan 2003


David Moore was working for Max Dupain in 1948 having spent 1947 working in Russell Roberts’s studio. He had been using a camera since he was 11 and was completely dedicated to the medium. Moore’s early interest in the capture of light and movement never left him, despite his reputation being built on photo-documentary. In 1948 Moore was photographing on the streets as well as expanding his knowledge of studio photography. He was experimenting with all the things a camera could do and ‘Light pattern, camera in motion’ is an example of this. Moore went on to photograph flow patterns of ink in water in 1964, and to abstract the movements of water and light in the 1970s. In the 1990s Moore was photographing landscapes whether in colour or black-and-white and capturing the dynamic patterns of clouds and water. Again, the impulse to abstract and find elemental forms was at work. In 1980 he wrote: ‘A refreshing new clearing in the clouds opened up and quite suddenly we, as photographers did not have to be so literal, so naïve in our understandings of which way was up.’1 Although Moore was discussing the 1970s, this quote is entirely relevant to each stage of his career.

In 1948 the impulse probably came from an early interest in the pioneering work in the 1930s of American Harold Edgerton where capturing action photographically at very high speeds revealed a form in motion for the first time. ‘Light pattern, camera in motion’ can be read in parallel with postwar abstraction in painting where expressive qualities couple with pure form. Certainly, Moore’s eagerness to experiment, his broad readings around modernist photography, and the influence of Max Dupain enabled him to create images which were unknown in Australian photographic practice at that time.

1. Moore D 1980, ‘Thoughts from within’, ‘David Moore: photographer’, Richmond Hill Press, Melbourne np

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007



circa 1948
printed 1997

Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


50.7 x 40.3 cm image/sheet


Gift of Karen, Lisa, Matthew and Michael Moore 2004


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

David Moore

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian modernism', pg.131-149, Sydney, 2007, 147 (illus.).

Judy Annear, David Moore: the unseen images, Sydney, 1997, 57 (illus.). no catalogue numbers

Vigen Galstyan, Look, 'Infinite flatness: exploring the intangible', pg. 28-29, Sydney, Oct 2012, 29.

Melissa Miles, The Language of Light and Dark, ‘Painting with Light: Abstract Visions’, pg. 161-214, Australia, 2015, 183, 184 (illus.). fig. 4.17