A Picto-what in the family?

Pictorialism is the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. It refers to a style in which the photographer manipulated a straightforward photo as a means of 'creating' an image rather than simply recording it. Pictorial photographs typically lack a sharp focus, may be printed in one or more colours other than black and white (from browns to blue) and may have visible brush strokes or other manipulation on the surface.

Pictorialism declined in popularity after the 1930s as the new style of Modernism came into vogue, and the interest shifted to more sharply focused images, which could be delivered cheaply by more modern equipment.

A M Macdonald (1873-1937) was one of New Zealand's first indigenous Pictorialist photographers, being an active camera club member from 1901. By 1919 he had acquired considerable photographic skills and was sending work to London, Paris and Los Angeles. A fine exponent of soft edged compositions, he was proficient in a number of techniques including bromoil, an oil pigment water resist method beloved of the Pictorialists (as quoted in a publication of the New Zealand Centre for Photography).

A M Macdonald and examples of his work

A M Macdonald
Girl with Flowers
Lane and stairs - believed to be in Dunedin
Long Long Thoughts (c.1920-30)(O.031820 Te Papa; silver gelatin print)
Profile (c.1920s)(O.042744 Te Papa; silver gelatin print)
Road Workers (c.1928)(O.031788 Te Papa; silver gelatin print)
The Harbour Road
The Kelp Gatherer
The Sunlit Pasture (c.1920s)(O.020365 Te Papa; silver gelatin print)