CHALLENGE – who was G. G. M., photographer?

A little over a month ago I came across this beautiful photograph of the Miller’s Family Hotel – one of my favourites and included in my book Hotels of the Bellarine Peninsula.  The image was from the State Library Victoria online collection – H2002.198/72

One thing I noticed was that there was no location recorded for this image so I was in the process of contacting the State Library when I noticed the ‘creator’ – G. G. M., photographer.

On further investigation there were 121 images attributed to G.G.M. with a number being around the Bellarine Peninsula.  I have a web page identifying all photographers in Geelong and District and G.G.M. wasn’t included in my list.

I checked the two main references for photographers in Australia – The Mechanical Eye in Australia: Photography 1841-1900, Alan Davies & Peter Stanbury, 1985, and Australians Behind the Camera: Directory of Early Australian Photographers 1841 to 1945, Sandy Barrie, 2002.

There was one possible entry: George G MURRAY (New York Studio / New York Photo Co.:

  • 246 Collins Street, Melbourne 1903-06
  • 244 Collins Street, Melbourne 1908
  • 28 Union Street, Brunswick 1912-19
  • 28 Union Street, Brunswick 1936-37

The G.G.M. images in the SLV catalogue were dated ca 1914 – ca 1916 however Gerard, a Librarian from the SLV Pictures Collection, has positively identified one of these images to November 1906.  In fact Gerard has provided a great deal of information including the fact that the donor of this collection and numerous SLV staff had spent a great deal of time trying to identify G.G.M.

Another clue from Gerard and other librarians from the SLV Pictures Collection was that perhaps G.G.M. ‘might have been a skilled and ambitious amateur rather than a full-blown professional.  There is something amateurish in the way he inscribes his initials on the negatives.’

In addition to numerous locations, G.G.M.’s images include many people – I think perhaps these are of his parents and siblings.  I wonder if family historians / genealogists can help solve this conundrum?  Certainly someone related to this family would discover a number of images of members of their family.

People mentioned (could be siblings):

  • Mum
  • Dad
  • Self
  • Alan (also in AIF uniform)
  • Bert (also in AIF uniform)
  • Daisy
  • Elsie
  • Jerry
  • Rose
  • Jim
  • Ted

Locations mentioned:

  • Portarlington, Vic
  • Clifton Springs, Vic
  • Kyneton, Vic
  • Healesville, Vic
  • Coburg, Vic
  • Brunswick, Vic
  • Lilydale, Vic
  • Richmond, Vic
  • Melbourne, Vic
  • Beaconsfield, Vic
  • Badgers Creek, Vic
  • Williamstown, Vic
  • Fern Tree Gully, Vic
  • Sassafras, Vic
  • West Gippsland, Vic
  • Belgrave, Vic
  • Coogoo, NSW
  • Dubbo, NSW

Property / house name:

  • River Lea
  • River Lea and Mount Toolebewong? (shown in the background)

To find all 121 images look at the details of one of his images and click on the link beside AUTHOR for G. G. M., Photographer

The results show 118 images but a couple of those have two images in the link.

So are you up to the challenge?  Who was G. G. M., photographer.

Sharing G. G. M., photographer might unearth family members who recognise the family and siblings.

17 comments

  1. Your comment “I think perhaps these are of his parents and siblings.” made me wonder about the titles of the photos. Particularly in reference to “Self and Jerry” & “Self and Alan”. The same man is in the photo “Mother, Jim, Daisy & Ted”. Therefore ‘Self’ must be either Jim or Ted ? Also given that photography was more laborious than today it is unlikely that G.G.M. is actually in the photos. Perhaps G.G. M. was a family friend ?

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    • Hi Howard – at that time ‘selfies’ were far more prevalent than we think. In fact the majority of cameras were on tripods and had timer / delays so I would think that G.G.M. is definitely in the photos labelled ‘self’. That’s my thoughts anyway. I think it’s quite possible that G.G.M. is not necessarily his initials but who knows. The more thoughts and suppositions the better to help narrow the field. Thanks for your contribution. … Susie Z

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  2. There is the confusing addition to the ‘self’ titles with one of “Self and Alan”, upon closer inspection it is the older man named as ‘Dad’ in the Dad & 4 Boys.
    Ok then given that a selfie was possible then why are two different men labelled as ‘Self’ ?
    Identification of the family may help with identification of G.G.M.
    The other question is the “(New York Studio / New York Photo Co.: which may give clues from passenger lists of arrivals to Australia IF he travelled to obtain those credentials ?

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  3. I live in the house photographed by G.G.M. named River-lea around 1915 or 1916.
    It is still standing at 213 Badger Creek Road, Badger Creek.3777

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  4. George G Murray used to regularly visit the Dandenongs at the turn of the 20th century and took 100s of photos during these visits. Most of them had notes beside the photo with directions, names etc. He generally stayed at the Sunnyside artists camp in Kallista and the Roberts family (C J Dennis also stayed there) / South Sassafras. I used many of his photos in a publication in 2014, ‘Reflections of the Past Vol 4’ covering the era when the dandenongs were denuded, graphically captured by GGM (1880s-1920s). All the images I used came from a collection of 10×8 reprints made by Brian Pump. I discovered that they had been copied from a family in Perrins Creek Rd Kallista in 1974 but no one involved in the copying could recall who had the albums or exactly where they lived. So I was pleased to find that one of these albums including some of the photos I used is now at the SLV – it had been given to the Croll family. NB One of the prints is an image of GGM. Sadly, I never found out very much about the photographer whose images the book used. He did stay with the Storrie family in Sassafras often during the 1920s and their family members are in many of his Sassafras photos. The book in 2014 was published by the Sherbrooke Foothills Historical Society, and the albums of the 10×8 reprints are still in the possession of Graeme McPherson, former longterm owner of the Sherbrooke Lodge guesthouse in Sherbrooke. I’d love to hear from anyone who can shed more light on GGM and the original albums the reprints came from, apart from the one now with the SLV..

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    • John – Thank you so much for your input.
      Am I crazy thinking that if he died in Victoria his name would have been registered as George G MURRAY or George G-something MURRAY and not George Something-else MURRAY?
      If that is the case then it looks like he might have died elsewhere in Australia or overseas as I can’t find a George G-anything MURRAY up until 1985 when I expect he would have no longer been with us if he was taking photos and visiting the Dandenongs at the turn of the century.
      Perhaps someone will come up with more information to identify the person and his family.
      It’s still a challenge and you’ve contribute more valuable information to that Challenge.

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