photographer and policeman, was probably the Fenton who worked as the partner of Coldrey in Main Road, Ballarat, Victoria (next door to Bowe’s Horse Bazaar) in 1856, advertising collodion portraits (ambrotypes). Fenton & Coldrey also took views; their ambrotype of the Ballarat fire brigade was highly praised in the Ballarat Times . They are thought to be the first colonial photographers to advertise the pannotype (also in 1856), a collodion negative print on black leather which was promoted as convenient for posting. Although listed as photographers the following year, no further work is known from the partnershi

Alfred R. Fenton was a keen amateur photographer who came to Victoria from Ireland, after having trained as a policeman in London. He may well have spent a short period as a professional photographer before resuming his career in the police force in Melbourne, after which he continued to be an obsessive amateur photographer. His daughter, Mrs E.G. Stubbs of Albert Park, recollected in 1949 (when aged 81) that Fenton divided a room in his home into three parts: the window side being his studio, the others his darkroom and chemical store. Here he concocted perfumes which he exchanged for photographic chemicals from the local chemist. Obsessive about his hobby, he melted down the family silver, took over the kitchen stove to distil his brews and posed 'the girl who scrubbed the floors’ for hours while he tested his plates.

His daughter believed that Fenton was the first person to make and use dry plates in Australia but gives no dates. He was well known in the profession and numerous examples of his work were extant in 1949. Despite his amateur status, Fenton was president of the Photographic Society of Victoria before he died in 1887.

Staff Writer
Date written:
Last updated: