The Photograph and Australia: William Hetzer

William Hetzer / George Street Sydney Post Office 1858-67 / Stereograph / Macleay Museum, the University of Sydney

Born in Germany, Hetzer arrived in Sydney in 1850 and opened a studio. He specialised in paper photography, which was a novel process at the time, as well as stereograph views. In 1858 he made a series of thirty-six photographs taken with a stereo-view camera (available from 1855) of Sydney streets and buildings which were funded by subscription, they were among the earliest outdoor photographs and were popular souvenirs. Hetzer was assisted by his wife Thekla who was one of the earliest woman photographers in the colony.

Stereographs feature two photographs positioned side by side, one for the left eye and one for the right. When a viewer uses a stereoscope, a device for viewing stereographs, these two flat images are combined into a single image that gives the illusion of depth.

George Street Sydney Post Office is on display with over 650 historical and modern works only until 11 October in ‘The Photograph and Australia’ exhibition.