AE Bond set up his studio on Commercial Road, Port Adelaide in 1901, shifting to St Vincent street in the 1930s. This collection comprises 2,000 glass negatives — studio portraits of generations of working class Portonians. They capture individual rites of passage such as weddings, graduations, debuts, birthdays, and soldiers and sailors departing for war. The negatives are simply labelled with the sitter’s surname.
‘It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.’ — Paul Caponigro
The portraits from Mr Bond's Studio provide a charming and evolving snapshot of the people of the Port. Subjects include children, sailors, soldiers, brides, graduates dance troupes and sporting heroes, encompassing a spectrum of ages and ethnicities, vocations and recreations. The collection documents the changing fashions of the period and hint at the global conflicts and recessions that impacted the community.
The highly staged portraits with props and elaborate backdrops hint at the preciousness of a studio photograph to working class families and reflect on a period when photographs supplanted the painted portrait. Photographs were not meant to capture spontaneity but were records, to be treasured, of individuals at their very best.
With thanks to Claire Moonlight, for her extensive research, Jan Perry, for digitisation, and all the other volunteers who have given generously of their time to work on this collection.