Harold Cazneaux

Harold Cazneaux was born in New Zealand in 1878. In 1886, the family returned to Australia where Harold’s father, Pierce Mott, who spelt his name Cazneaux, was a reputable portrait photographer at Freeman’s in Sydney and Hammer & Co., Adelaide. At 17, Harold was an artist-retoucher at Hammer’s.

Harold studied art at evening classes at the School of Design. He moved to Sydney in 1904, working at Freeman’s as an artist re-toucher then chief camera operator. Harold began taking pictures to and from work using his first camera – a Midge Box camera. He began to meet other amateur photographers and in 1907, was introduced to the Photographic Society of NSW. In 1909 Harold mounted a one man show at the Society’s rooms. He met Sydney Ure Smith, who appointed him as the official photographer to The Home magazine in 1920. (Cazneaux had resigned from Freeman’s in 1918 after suffering a nervous breakdown.)

In 1952, Cazneaux was honoured with a national tribute evening and in 1938 had received an Honorary Fellowship of The Royal Photographic Society. Cazneaux’s pictures were published extensively in Sydney Ure Smith’s publications as well as the Australasian Photo-Review, Harringtons Photograpic Journal magazines, and, Photograms of the Year. Harold Cazneaux died in 1953.

Harold Cazneux’s Glass Negative Collection at the University of Sydney Archives

The University of Sydney Archives holds 91 glass plate negatives taken by Cazneaux. Included are the images he took in 1927 of the University, which were for publication in the 1 September 1927 edition of The Home to launch the University’s 75th anniversary appeal. There are images of anatomy, pathology and microscopy classes, and work being undertaken in the Physics and Engineering departments. A separate article by Professor J Le Gay Brereton features images of the original Fisher Library, the clock tower and the Macleay Museum. Another story features images of the Veterinary School with students examining animals and the Observation Box.

Other images by Cazneaux depict University grounds and buildings, including the residential colleges and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. There are images of the construction of new buildings such as the Botany School in 1924/25 and images of the Physics Building, including the interior, which are the only images of these buildings for this period held in the Archives.

In 1959/60, Harold’s daughter deposited 524 glass negatives, of which 91 were identified as taken by Cazneaux. Several of the negatives are engraved with the initials ‘HC’. It was noted on several of the boxes which negatives were intended for The Home article as the boxes were labelled for Professor Holme who was the University’s 75th Anniversary Appeal Director. The Cazneaux negatives were half plate size compared to earlier images on larger plates and later images on quarter plates.

Some of the Cazneaux’s images can be seen in G Fisher’s The University of Sydney, 1850-1975 (1975, University of Sydney) and, Cazneaux at the University of Sydney by Pamela Bell & Tim Robinson (1997, University of Sydney)