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  • Title
    Australian Photographic Agency (APA) Collection : Sydney people, places and events, 1953-1987
  • Creator
  • Call number
    ON 173
    MLMSS 8522/Boxes 1-2
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    Photographs - 47890 images copied from photonegatives (chiefly b&w) and some colour transparencies
    0.20 metres of textual material (2 boxes) - handwritten - 10 x 15 cm.

    The Agency had begun in 1953, when three former newspaper photographers - Norm Danvers, Alton 'Curly' Fraser and Jack Hickson - pooled their resources and opened a studio at 583a George Street, opposite Anthony Hordern's department store. Each of them brought a wealth of photographic experience.
    Norm Danvers had started at Crown Studios (part of Crown Crystal) and learnt commercial colour photography before the war under Gordon Williams. After military service, he worked on the Telegraph and opened a studio specialising in colour work and public relations imagery in 1949.

    'Curly' Fraser (he had curly hair) worked as a press photographer on the Telegraph for several years before the war, where he met Jack Hickson. After escaping capture by the Japanese, he returned to his old job, but soon moved to the Mirror.
    Jack Hickson was a dyed-in-the-wool newspaper photographer. He had started at Sam Hood's studio and worked on the Telegraph and Australian Women's Weekly for many years. He established his reputation as the intrepid young photographer who had trudged through the McPherson Ranges to get exclusive photographs of the Stinson Plane Crash in 1937. His last job before joining the Agency was at Woman's Day.

    The Agency prospered in the advertising and public relations boom of the 1950s and received an extra fillip from the first visit of Queen Elizabeth in 1954. All three partners had extensive contacts in the photographic industry and they took on other press photographers as needed. In fact the Agency had 17 photographers recording the Royal visit! Within two years they were able to move to new premises on the fourth floor of 44 Pitt Street. The total number of photographers employed by the Agency, sometimes on a casual basis, sometimes for longer periods, was about 95. Their commercial clientele expanded through the late 1950s and early 1960s and contracts to supply photographs for New Zealand and country newspapers kept them busy.

    The 1960s recession and changing commercial environment took its toll. Television had altered the advertising world and newspapers tended to use their own photographers for news events. Even major clients, such as ICI began to take their own public relations photographs. Norm Danvers left to open his own commercial studio in 1963. The business struggled through the 1970s with a reduced number of clients, and even took passport photographs to make ends meet. The Agency moved through a series of premises - The Endeavour Building in Macquarie Place (1980) and the Ironworkers Building in George Street (1984) - before settling in Angel Place in 1985.

    When an ill Jack Hickson retired in 1989, he donated the entire collection of 48,000 large format negatives to the State Library of New South Wales. He died the following year.

    Alan Davies, Curator of Photographs, July 2000
  • Scope and Content
    ON 173

    Images of mainly Sydney people, places, events, aerial views, transport, furniture and fashion by Jack Hickson and APA staff photographers

    MLMSS 8522/Boxes 1-2

    Card index system of account cards in alphabetical order by company and/or subject. Gives name of account, date, and account number. Account numbers have been entered into the item records attached to this Collection record e.g. Taken by Australian Photographic Agency for account: Royal Blind Society 2816/56

    This collection includes pictorial material at
    PXA 1794
    ON 553
  • Access Conditions

    This material is held in cold storage and requires 3 working days notice to retrieve. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian - Only applies to nos. 00001 - 00894, 00897 - 45281, 45822 - 45880, 45986 - 47764, 47814 - 47962
  • Copying Conditions
    Copyright status:: This collection has multiple rights owners
    Copyright restrictions may apply: Photographs in this collection created before 1955 are all out of copyright. Photographs created after 1955 are in copyright. Permission must be obtained from the individual rights owners.
  • General note

    2000 images in colour
    Images copied onto videodisc (analog) in 1992-1993 and transferred to digital format in June 1996
    Captions supplied by cataloguer Robert Woodley (from brief notes on original photonegative envelopes)
    Recorded tour of the exhibition "Weird and wonderful Sydney" conducted by Alan Davies, Curator of Photographs, for the use of volunteer guides. Copy of this tour held at MLOH 434/1
    Date in the Creator Field is the date of the first known Australian Photographic Agency photograph by that photographer [NOT the photographer's date of birth]
    For an interview with photographer Ern McQuillan by Simon Elliott, May 2004, see National Portrait Gallery of Australia. As keen as ever with a camera : Ern McQuillan: on assignment.
    A copy of this interview is also available at PXn 947
    Some images are dated 1952 (Robert Woodley, cataloguer, Sept 2004)

    Pic.Acc. Upgrade Project - Information transferred from Pic.Acc.6625 as part of the eRecords Project 2011-2012
  • Subject
  • Topic
  • Exhibited in

    Weird and wonderful Sydney - State Library of New South Wales (14 August, 2000 - 14 January, 2001)

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