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1914 - 1990

Louis Athol-Shmith was born in Melbourne and first thought of following a career as a musician. He had an amateur interest in photography and through doing publicity shots for a musical show in 1932, decided on a professional career in photography. He set up a studio in Fitzroy Street, Melbourne, in 1933 specialising in portraiture. After 1936 Shmith extended his studio work into the fashion and advertising fields. By this time he was exhibiting work in local and overseas salons and had commercial work published in magazines such as Table Talk.

In 1938, Shmith moved to a new studio in Collins Street and gained a reputation as a leading professional photographer in the fields of social portraiture, fashion and advertising and theatre work. In 1945 he developed with B. Alston Pearl the “Camera Graph’ continuous flow film or “Photo-finish” camera for horse racing.

In 1950 John Cato, the son of Jack Cato (q.v.) became co-director of Shmith’s studio. The studio was increasingly associated with zestful, creative fashion photography but Shmith was also involved with a breakaway group concerned, like the “Six Photographers” in Sydney, with lack of interest shown by the institutes in any photography other than glamorous commercial work.

In 1968 Shmith helped institute the photography collection at the National Gallery of Victoria and continued as a member of the advisory committee once the photography department was established. In 1971 he was appointed senior lecturer-in-charge of the Department of Photography, School of Art and Design at Prahran College of Advanced Education.

Shmith retired from the college in 1979 and prepared a monograph on his work to be published in 1980. He also worked on a series of portraits of judges of the High Court of Australia.

above text based on Gaël Newton's Silver & Grey
Angus and Roberston, Australia 1980



Culture Victoria - web page on Athol Shmith

Wikipedia entry - click here

Yousuf Karsh (Ottawa) & Athol Shmith (Melbourne), the good, the great & the gifted - Camera Portraits, Gael Newton



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