HEMUS & HALL. [HEMUS, James, 1860-1936]
Man mounted on a racing camel near Coolgardie, Western Australian goldfields, late 1890s.
Albumen print photograph, 150 x 200 mm, manuscript caption in negative lower left: ‘A Thoroughbred Racer’, and at lower right: ‘Hemus & Hall Photos’; laid down on its original nineteenth century album page of thin card; the print is in good condition, with some pale foxing in the sky area.
‘James William Hemus (born 1860, Warwickshire, England) operated at the ‘San Francisco Palace of Art’ in George Street, Sydney around 1884-85 with fellow photographer, William True Bennett. By 1885 he was working with another photographer, Godfrey, before heading down to Melbourne where he was contacted by Bennett in November 1890, offering him a position in Perth, Western Australia. They opened a Tuttle & Co. studio in Hay Street, Perth.
The duo soon fell out with James Hemus taking Bennett to court in January 1891, for unpaid wages in the amount of £13 5s 8d. Bennett counter-claimed that Hemus was just a servant and had deserted his service.
That same month he formed a partnership with another Tuttle co-worker, under the name Hemus & Hall, taking over the William Street photographic studio of James Manning. It’s not known who Mr Hall was, but it seems he was also from New Zealand as was Hemus. Hall had captured a number of NZ landscapes which were later shown in Perth. James advertised the new studio with having the latest Melbourne novelties.
By March 1895 they had moved to Bayley Street, Coolgardie, no doubt to take advantage of the gold rush citizens. Coincidentally their ex-employer, William Bennett had a Tuttle & Co studio in the same street. It’s unknown if they’d made up by then, but it seems likely.
Unfortunately in November 1895, fire engulfed a row of buildings in Coolgardie, which gutted the studio, but it seems they rebuilt.
Hemus & Hall traded here until 1905, although James may have left as early as 1898 and gone back to Auckland, with Hall continuing the name.
New Zealand was where his family had immigrated to from England and James’ brother Charles, had a long running photographic business there and he may have gone back to work for him. James Hemus died in 1936.’ (Historyofwaphotography.wordpress.com)