Harold Pierce Cazneaux (1878-1953) is regarded as Australia’s leading pictorial or art photographer. Described by Max Dupain as the father of modern Australian photography, his influence has been profound.
Cazneaux’s work is celebrated for its embrace of natural light, which he saw as a key element in developing photographs with a distinctly Australian character. His extensive and versatile photographic work – from city views and landscapes to portraiture – is a testament to his innovation, passion and drive to take photography as an art to the world.
He participated regularly in national and international exhibitions, receiving critical and popular acclaim. His 1937 photograph, Spirit of Endurance, is arguably his most famous work.
Cazneaux was also a prolific writer, including a 20-year stint as correspondent for Photograms of the Year (UK), as well as a critic and teacher of photographic theory and technique.
Cazneaux’s early life
Although Cazneaux was introduced to photography at an early age (both his parents worked in commercial photographic studios), he was initially more interested in sketching and drawing. While attending art school at night, he worked with his father at Hammer & Co. portrait studio in Adelaide.
However, when the 20-year-old Cazneaux visited John Kauffman’s 1898 Adelaide exhibition, he had an epiphany. The soft-focus impressionistic images revealed the camera as an instrument of art, spurring Cazneaux on to create his own style