George St, Sydney, photo by William Hetzer, 1858-1863, original held by Powerhouse Museum
The first two photographic processes were the daguerreotype (which created a positive image on a silver plate) and the calotype (which created a paper negative). Both became commercially available in 1839 but ufortunately the small population, patent restrictions and uncertainty about their permanence limited photography’s use in Australia before the 1850s.
The daguerreotype was certainly the more successful of the two processes, and was the one adopted by Australia’s first commercial photographer, George Baron Goodman, who arrived in 1842. The calotype on the other hand found more general use among gentlemen amateurs in England when its inventor William Henry Fox-Talbot relaxed his patents to allow non-commercial use of the process. As a result the process became more viable and one of the first commercial photographers to use the process in Australia was William Hetzer. Continue reading