Charles Kerry

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Charles Henry Kerry (1857-1928)

The Historic Photograph collection has approximately 3000 glass plate negatives of Charles Kerry material. Subjects covered include rural towns in New South Wales, inland shipping, the Great White Fleet and its visit to Sydney in 1908, Jenolan Caves, rural industry, skiing, Mt Kosciusko, Sydney and Suburbs.

Charles Kerry on Horseback carrying camera, 1896 ascent of Mount Kosciousko Background
Chindera, New South Wales, around 1900

Charles Kerry was Born in Bombala New South Wales on the 3rd of April 1857. In 1874 he joined Alexander Lamartinere's photographic studio and around 1883 became a partner. Lamartinere absconded with Kerry's small capital but Kerry stayed on, and in partnership with C. D. Jones, built the small studio into the colony's largest photographic organization.

In 1885 he was asked to prepare an exhibit of Aboriginal portraits and corroboree pictures for the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition. (These images are now to be found in the Tyrell Collection).

In 1891 he was commissioned to photograph the Jenolan and Yarrangobilly caves. (The Macleay Museum has plate glass negatives of some of these)

By 1900 Kerry & Co handled the major illustrations for the local press. In 1908 he photographed the visit of the American Fleet and the Burns-Johnson boxing match both of which are in the Macleay Museum collection of plate glass negatives.

He pioneered snow sports at Kiandra and in the winter of 1896 led a party to the summit of Mount Kosciusko, (some of these images are in the Macleay Museum collection) which led to the opening up of the area for skiing and the naming of a run after him.

Charles Kerry began his career as a photographer in about 1875, working for the Sydney portrait photographer, A.H. Lamartiniere. By 1884, Kerry had taken over the business and had his studio at 308 George Street, Sydney. In 1890 he was appointed official photographer to the Governor of New South Wales, Lord Carrington. In addition to his portrait work, Kerry took on a number of government commissions, including travelling through New South Wales to photograph Aboriginal peoples, their camps and corroborees and taking detailed interior views of Jenolan Caves. Kerry's work was greatly facilitated by the invention of the dry-plate process in Europe in 1878. Where once photographs had to be developed on the spot, now they could be taken and developed later in the studio. Kerry's photographs of New South Wales were exhibited at the 1893 Chicago International Exhibition. In 1913, Kerry retired to take up mining. Although his nephew took over the business, increased competition and changing tastes meant that Kerry & Co closed in 1917.

Some of Charles Kerry's photography is preserved in The Tyrell Collection of the Powerhouse Museum

He died at his home in Neutral Bay on the 26th of May 1928.

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online