Three Unexpected Uses of Photographs


These days we have thousands of digital photos. Are you like me, and have them mostly stored on the computer or phone?

A photo is a document, used for publicity, commentary, art. It can sell a product or service.

But photographs also record memories, and document historic events.

Talented young photographer, Paul Dubotsky, one hundred years ago, recorded everyday events during his World War One internment at Trial Bay gaol. These photos were found almost ninety decades later in Germany in near perfect condition. (With thanks to Paul Dubotsky’s gallery; and Nadine Helmi and Gerhard Fischer and their book The Enemy at Home.)

The most important use of photography to me is to record unexpected moments that pass by so quickly. A snapshot is all that is left, as time moves forward. Tell me what you think of these ideas, or the photos below…

1. A glimpse into a private passion, uplifted by art… these men sit in a room they call the painting school c1916-18. Their faces could be those of any young contemporary men ~ they stare solemnly. Art was one escape from their depressing imprisonment. On the far right is Paul Dubotsky.


2. Actors get into their petticoats! Again an unexpected insight into a whole theatrical world the Germans created at Trial Bay, with plays or operettas every week. With no women, the men dressed for female roles…these guys look pretty relaxed about it, talking and sharing a smoke!


3.Cafe society…this modest little beach hut was the first set up outside the prison walls, c1916. Later it was extended and renamed Cafe Kunstlerklause, ‘Artist’s Den Cafe.’ The men are neatly dressed and sit with their friends on the beautiful Laggers Point headland, yet there is the bittersweet paradox that above them looms the gaol where they must return each afternoon.


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