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Sydney, ca. 1885-1890 / photographed by Arthur K. Syer1935

by Syer, Arthur

Arthur Syer, brother of the artist Walter Syer, was a friend of cartoonist Phil May and supplied him with 'snapshot' photographs of ordinary people in daily attire. Phil May, renowned for the life-like quality of his illustrations, used the photographs to impart an authentic atmosphere to his cartoons. Syer's low angle photographs were taken surreptitiously, using a 'detective camera'. Such cameras, sometimes concealed in parcels or portmanteau, were made possible with the invention of the dry plate in 1880. 

Reference:
'Phil May and his photography', Australian Magazine, 1908. pp 668-677

Some Syer photographs reproduced in: 'Old Books, Old Friends, Old Sydney' / by James R. Tyrrell (1952)