Sydney Camera Circle, founded 28 November, 1916.

In July, 1897, Alfred Stieglitz published the first copies of his new photographic magazine Camera Notes. This magazine set new standards for photographic reproductions but perhaps even more importantly questioned the traditional exclusion of photography from the arts.  Over the next four years Stieglitz used Camera Notes to champion photography as an art form by including articles on art and aesthetics next to prints by some of the leading photographers in Europe and the U.nited States.

By 1904 this new wave of photography, often referred as Pictorialism, was also being discussed in Australia and in November of that year The Australasian Photographic Journal contained,

a striking picture by Steiglitz, which is said to be one of the best examples of pictorial photography ever exhibited. The Register, Adelaide, 1904.

In Australia a small but dedicated group of Sydney photographers actively set about promoting Pictorialism and on  28 November 1916, they formed the Sydney Camera Circle. The six founding members included Cecil Bostock, Harold Cazneaux, Malcolm McKinnon, James Paton, James S. Stening and William Stewart White; all of whom are now revered as pioneers of a uniquely Australian form of Pictorialism. By 1921 the circle had expanded to twelve members which, according to The Sun Newspaper, were,

attempting to establish a distinctive Australian school of photography, and some of their studies of bush scenery have, at least, a charm which is entirely original.  The Sun, 1921.

In the above photograph by Harold Cazneaux we can see members of the Sydney Camera Circle in 1924, including four of the original members: James E. Paton; Harold Cazneaux; William S. White; and Cecil Bostock leaning back in chair. Although formed 100 years ago the founding photographers of the ‘Sydney Camera Circle’ and the exhibitions and catalogues they produced are still acknowledged as significant milestones in Australia’s photographic history.

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