The Photograph and Australia: George Goodman

George Goodman / Caroline and son Thomas James Lawson 1845 / Daguerreotype / State library of NSW, Sydney, presented 1991

George Goodman was the first professional photographer to work in Australia. He arrived in Sydney from London in 1842, advertising himself as a fully licenced photographer having purchased rights to the daguerreotype process from the British patentee, Richard Beard. Photography had been known in the colony since 1839 and Goodman’s arrival was greeted with enthusiasm.

Reports on the initial results, however, varied, some praising the daguerreotypes as ‘forcible’ likenesses, others describing them as ‘hideous, sulky [and] sepulchral’. During his stay in Australia, Goodman remained itinerant, travelling from colony to colony in search of patrons, returning with his family to London in 1850.

Caroline and son Thomas James Lawson is on display with over 650 historical and modern works until 11 October in ‘The Photograph and Australia’ exhibition.