Between 1876 and 1886, transitional years in the history of 19th century prison photography, changes took place in the way Thomas Nevin posed the prisoner and printed the final mugshot. The technology changed too. Lenses after 1875 enabled a closer or larger image of the face. The prisoner was also posed closer to the camera in a full frontal position facing the photographer, and although the oval mount was still the preferred format for printing, square frames were also used. The formalised front and profile pair of portraits using the methods of Bertillonage did not appear in Tasmanian prison photography until the late 1890s, by which time Thomas Nevin had ceased professional photography and his younger brother John Nevin was deceased. … More Nevin’s mugshots: the transitional pose and frame
Tourists to Tasmania in the early 1900s were encouraged to disagree with this sort of thinking put forward in newspapers by Dr Goring. With the intense promotion of Tasmania’s penal heritage in the early 1900s, due largely to the release of the first of the two films based on Marcus Clarke’s 1874 novel, For The Term of His Natural Life (1908, 22 minutes), many Tasmanian prisoner identification photographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin on government contract to police and prison authorities in the 1870s were reprised by John Watt Beattie and Edward Searle for sale as tourist tokens in Beattie’s convictaria museum in the 1900s, called The Port Arthur Museum, although it was located in Hobart and not at Port Arthur. … More The PARKHURST prisoners & anthropometry
The pose was not the result of the social status, class and power differentials between photographer and convict, as Helen Ennis suggests (Exposures, Photography and Australia , 2007, pages 21-22), a suggestion which ignores this pattern in Nevin’s technique; which assumes that Nevin was not familiar, nor even friendly, with these convicts, some of whom had travelled as Parkhurst boys with Thomas Nevin, aged 10, and his family to Tasmania in 1852 on board the Fairlie, eg. Michael Murphy; and which presupposes that at the point of capture the convict was cowering under the gaze of a punitive individual such as the Commandant of the Port Arthur prison, A.H. Boyd, a furphy [erroneous story] created by Boyd’s descendants and Chris Long which has resulted in a misattribution, and has misled Ennis into publishing this comment which is coloured by her misconception … More Prisoner poses: women, children and ticket-of-leave men
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