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(CAPTAIN) FRANK HURLEY 1885-1962
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Francis Hurley was born in Sydney and left school when he was around
13. His early years are not clear with reports of him undergoing
some electrical engineering technical training, working
at Eskbank Ironworks in Lithgow, as well as working for the Postal
and Telegraph Office in Central Sydney. Sometime in the early 1990s
he became an amateur photographer and was quickly very enthusiastic
According to Jack Cato in The Story of the Camera
Australia, Hurley “saw
in this new toy a key that might unlock the door to adventure”.
Adventure remained the attraction photography had for Hurley, in
1905 Hurley’s father, a typographic printer,
bought his son a partnership in Cave & Co studio (photography,
stationery and printing) which specialised in the postcard trade.
soon attracting attention
the novelty of his
work. As early as June 1905 Hurley had had a dramatic picture of
a wave breaking published in the Australasian Photo-Review magazine.
By 1909 he was a regular exhibitor in local salons and was making
name for himself with night shots of the city done with flash light.
He had became an expert on combination printing and gave lectures
on this technique.
was a founder in 1910 of the Ashfield District Camera Club with friends
Henri Mallard and Norman Deck.
That same year he set
own (photographic and stationary) studio in Dalley Street.
1911 he was well-known and established professional photographer
and an official in the Photographic Society of New South Wales.
He also appears to have
worked for the government railways. At the time Hurley made dramatic
of steam trains at full speed where others only shot stationary
December 1911, Hurley achieved his dream of adventure by being appointed
official photographer for Sir Douglas Mawson’s
first Australian Antarctic expedition. He appears to have been
recommended by Henri
Mallard, who arranged for Hurley’s outstanding accounts
with Harrington’s and Baker & Rouse to be deferred,
and also gave him a crash course in 16mm filming techniques.
Kodak acquired the Dalley
adventures with the Mawson expedition have been well documented elsewhere.
were used in Mawson’s
book The Home of the Blizzard (1913) and his fame
as a photographer was further established by his own lecture
and lantern slide
talks. Hurley immediately took off on a motor car expedition
and the Northern Territory with Francis Birtles, from which
he was summoned to South America to join Sir Ernest Shackleton’s
Antarctic expedition on the ship Endurance.
The ship became
icebound but the
crew endured, and Hurley returned to London with them in
1916. He then joined the Australian Infantry Force.
war photographs, often made more dramatic by combination
printing as in plates 47 (A Battlefield cemetery, 1918)
and 48 (The Morning after the Battle of Passchendaele, 1917), were
exhibited in London and Sydney in 1919 and added to the reputation
that his polar expedition work had earned him. Hurley also
went on later expeditions
to Antarctica, the first in 1929, again with Sir Douglas
1934 Hurley returned to Australia and worked as a pictorial editor
on The Sun newspaper before joining Cinesound
a film cameraman
in 1936. Between the world wars he worked on a number
of commercial and
documentary films, including his own documentaries of
Great Barrier Reef in 1922 - 23 and Pearls and Savages (1924)
about New Guinea.
World War II Hurley again served as an official war photographer
the Middle East. In 1941 he received an OBE and the
Polar Service Medal for his work.
World War II, Hurley did extensive coverage of Australian cities
and industry but the work was not as good as photographs made on
his adventures. He was responsible for the production of numerous "Australiania"
Books as well as promotional cards and calenders. Hurley’s
photographic style was influenced by the imaginative approach to
images of the pictorial movement which
was in vogue in his youth, but he was not a pictorialist.
published numerous books of photographs on his adventures such
as Argonauts of the South, Voyages in Polar Seas
being an update on the version in Gaël Newton's Silver & Grey
Angus and Roberston, Australia 1980
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Hurley special pages