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Driver, Ada Annie (1868 - 1954)

Born
12 November 1868
Queensland, Australia
Died
1954
Occupation
Professional photographer

Summary

Ada Driver was one of the most successful woman photographers working in Brisbane in the early twentieth century. She owned her own studio, producing high-class portraiture and illustrative work. Driver used the latest processes, adding artistic colouring to produce soft-toned photographs, as well as producing images for magic lantern slides and stereoscopic photographs.

Details

Ada Driver was considered one of the most successful woman photographers working in Brisbane in the early twentieth century. She owned her own studio and was known for her high-class portraiture and illustrative work.

Driver was born into a large family of eight children on 12 November 1868 in Queensland. Her father was Charles Driver, who had worked as a cane cutter but then opened a shop, and her mother was Harriett Howe. Driver was trained by Poul C. Poulson, a Danish-born photographer who was the most prominent photographer in Queensland at the turn of the century. He had arrived in Sydney in 1876 and moved to Queensland in 1882, setting up a studio in Brisbane at 7 Queen Street in 1885. Although known today for his scenes of Queensland's early development, his studio also produced many portraits and it was in this photographic genre that Driver was trained.

In 1906 when Driver was in her late thirties, she established her own studio at 51 Queen Street, which she called Miss Driver's Studio. She placed advertisements in The Brisbane Courier highlighting her studio's use of 'the latest processes.' She added that 'artistic colouring to life and other special features are obtained. A speciality is made of postcards and children's portraits. A special department for the sale of artistic postcards has also been opened' (The Brisbane Courier 12 Aug 1907).

Her work was soon in high demand as a result of the praise she received from the press. For example, The Brisbane Courier wrote that her photographs are 'noted for a softness of tone, a fine finish, and delicate shading' (Dec 1907). As a result of her success she was able to employ studio assistants, most of whom were women. She was known for 'playing the violin [in the studio with these women] during the lunch breaks' (Kerr 396). Among her staff were her sister Lucy (who took over the Ada Driver Studios in Fortitude Valley) and the photographer Elsie Lambton, whom she trained.

Driver's work was published in a number of Queensland newspapers including The Brisbane Courier, The Week, The Queenslander and The Telegraph, all of which featured her portrait shots as well as some of her illustrative pieces. In addition to portrait work Driver was attributed with producing a number of magic lantern slides and stereoscopic photographs that were bequeathed to the State Library of Queensland.

On the 31 December 1913, Driver, who was aged 45, married William Ellis Evans, the Queensland manager of Kodak; they did not have any children. The fact that there are no known works by her after this date suggests that she may have retired at this point in her career, although her studio as such continued to operate until 1919.

Collections

Coffs Harbour Regional Museum
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
Collection of family photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
Powerhouse Museum

Events

1906 - 1913
Active as a professional photographer

Sources used to compile this entry: 'The Ada Driver Studio', The Brisbane Courier, no. 11 December 1907, p.6, 1907. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19396492; 'Miss Ada Driver's Studio', The Brisbane Courier, 12 August 1907. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19386920; 'Ada Driver', The Telegraph, 22 December 1911, p.2. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/176685486.

Related entries

Employee

Digital resources

Title
Mary Street, Brisbane During the 1890 Flood
Type
Image
Creator
Driver, Ada
Source
Queensland State Library

Details

Title
Brisbane Medical Hall on Edward Street, Brisbane, c.1871
Type
Image
Date
c. 1871
Creator
Driver, Ada
Control
395497; Negative number 22222
Source
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Details

Title
Portrait of George Hoschke, (1900s?)
Type
Image
Date
c. 1900 - c. 1910
Creator
Driver, Ada
Source
Coff's Harbour Library

Details

Title
Todd Family
Type
Image
Date
c. 1902
Creator
Driver, Ada
Source
John Oxley Libray, State Library of Queensland

Details

Title
28284, Photograph of Medical and Nursing Staff of the Lady Lamington Hospital, Brisbane 1908
Type
Image
Date
1908
Creator
Driver, Ada
Source
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Details

Title
Illustrated Page from The Queenslander, December 6, 1919, p.55
Type
Image
Date
1919
Creator
Driver, Ada
Source
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Details

Anne Maxwell (with Morfia Grondas and Lucy Van)

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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