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Charles Percy Pickering

1825 - 1908

Photographer Charles Percy Pickering was born in England in 1825. He migrated to Australia in 1855 where he settled in Sydney and opened a photography business. Pickering became well-known for his family portraits and customers flocked to his studio in Brickfield Hill and later, to his second studio in George Street. In addition to photographing Sydney’s families, Pickering also produced souvenir photographs of public figures of interest such as bushrangers Frank Gardiner and John Gilbert.

Pickering later extended his business by making it mobile, travelling around the countryside in a van to accommodate those who wished to be photographed at their residence. In August 1870 the ‘Illustrated Sydney News’ published a photographic panorama of Sydney by Pickering and a month later he was appointed official photographer to the Sydney Intercolonial Exhibition.

The following year Pickering was engaged by the New South Wales government to prepare a photographic portfolio of Sydney and its suburbs for the London International Exhibition. Working under Colonial Architect James Barnet, Pickering produced the volume Photographs of Public and Other Buildings, &c. Taken by Authority of the Government of New South Wales, at the Request of the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sydney 1872). The publication contained 166 of Pickering’s images of Sydney scenes and was shown at the exhibition with the intention of promoting the city’s rapid development and architectural achievements.

Despite the success of his government work, Pickering was declared bankrupt several times in the years following his commission. It is believed that during this period he worked as a wood carver and the large sandstone kangaroo that’s stands on ‘Kangaroo Hill’ at Manly is thought to be Pickering’s work.

Pickering died in September 1908, at his home in Leichardt, survived by his wife and seven children.