Lyle Fowler – male operator

Lyle Fowler, ‘Male operator standing beside 50 ton winch head manufactured by Marfleet and Weight, ca 1941-42’

Lyle Fowler (1891-1969) was a Melbourne commercial photographer who specialised in industrial and architectural subjects. He worked from the 1920s right through to the 1960s. The State Library has his archive of prints and negatives, a huge collection – I gave up after looking at 1200 of them on their website.

The image above is typical of his industrial work, a well-made record of the client’s product. This one is from a full-plate (16x21cm) glass negative. Was glass-plate used for its dimensional stability on technical subjects, or just the photographer’s old-fashioned preference? Note how the background has been blocked out to remove distractions. It gives the image an appealing strangeness.