Ikon Studio

During the public call out for our Street Photography exhibition an extraordinarily rare collection of street photography negatives came to light.

Although many street photography companies advertised that they kept their negatives indefinitely, very few negatives have survived. The enormous volume of rolls processed made it unlikely that negatives were kept for more than a few years, and when firms went out of business what remained was probably discarded. Remarkably, 127 rolls of film taken by Ikon Studio photographers have survived. Ikon Studio operated from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, selling prints from Her Majesty’s Arcade on Market Street. Each strip of 35mm film is a complete sequence of images taken, not just those purchased by the public.  They offer us a unique insight into how the street photographers worked as they repositioned themselves in response to the flow of pedestrians and reveal the public’s varying response to being photographed. 

All of the 5000 photos were taken between May and December 1950 in Martin Place, Sydney but the photographer and subjects are as yet unknown. See below for a selection of these images.

Over the coming months we will be sharing more of these extraordinary images with you.

Do you recognise yourself or someone you know in these photos?  

Let us know via streetphotos@slm.com.au

  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.
  • Black and white photograph taken in street setting.

About the author

Head and shoulders portrait of woman set against brick wall.

Anna Cossu

Curator

Inspired by wonderful and slightly eccentric history teachers and after her own foray as a teacher, Anna found herself drawn to the world of museums.