Warning. Cloning this item will not retain its parent-child relationship.
Marie was introduced to photography at an early age and developed a passion for it. She took photos as a hobby before starting her professional career. During the war years, she worked for a photography studio in Brisbane, taking photographs of soldiers before they went to war, and giving them photos of their loved ones to take to the front. In 1947, her father's cousin encouraged her to move to Coffs Harbour, advising that there was a need for photographers here.
So in 1948 Marie opened the Marie Hunt Studios in High Street, Coffs Harbour. Her storefront was opposite Hacking Motors and the Tasma Theatre. A newspaper advertisement at the time read:
“Having now installed an Elaborate Scenic Background together with Additional Modern Equipment, this studio can assure the very essence of Perfection in Wedding Portraiture in Black and White, Sepia or Natural Colour.
Big stocks of Picture Frames in various sizes and designs. Cameras, Films, Chemicals and Accessories available at City Prices.
Same Day Service in Amateur Developing and Printing at Kodak ruling Prices.
You are Cordially invited to call in and Inspect what Miss Hunt has to offer.
Advice, Quotations and suggestions given willing and absolutely without obligation.
Studio Sittings arranged for Day and Night.”
Marie was interested in many different forms of photography and was an asset to the local community. Her studio specialised in formal portraits, weddings and debutante balls. However, she was also a ‘Jill-of-all-trades,’ called on by the local council to capture news photography that documented things like local floods, the first billy cart derby in town and lions that had escaped from a travelling circus. Marie also did event photography for local community groups, producing memorable albums for the Surf Life Saving Club and the Lions Club.
Marie comes across as stoic woman, as expressed in a 1952 article that narrates an incident in which a motorcycle caught fire, causing a state of panic and confusion:
“Miss Marie Hunt calmly detached an extinguisher from a nearby vehicle and with a few well-directed applications of the chemical, extinguished the flames.”
The same type of fearless personality was demonstrated when the five lions escaped from Wirth's Circus. While most people were heading for a hiding spot, Marie was looking for a good vantage point to take a picture of the magnificent creatures. It may have been this shared interest and attitude that attracted Marie to Jack Gerard. Gerard was a cinesound reporter and owner of the Tasma Theatre. Marie and Jack married in 1953 and together they owned and ran the Theatre until its closure in the 1960s.
Marie used many different types of cameras in her studio and out in the community. These include an Agfa 35mm Viewfinder, a Colormatic De Luxe camera and a Ross-Ensign Ful-Vue Camera. However, her preferred camera was a Compact Graflex Camera:
“Using the Graflex camera made life easy, it was very good and very versatile because it was an indoor or outdoor camera.”
The Compact Graflex Camera was an efficient reflecting camera in the smallest possible size, with automatic functions. It produced a high-quality picture, ideal for professional work or hand-held situations.
In 2010 the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum received two donations of Marie Hunt’s photographic equipment, including a range of cameras and a collection of photographs taken by Marie. The objects in this collection are a snapshot of the life and work of a local professional photographer of the 1950s and 1960s.
(Written and researched by Emily Gough, Southern Cross University Community Heritage Project Intern, February 2020)
Marie Gerard Interview, “The Coffs Harbour ‘Voice of Time’ Oral History Project,” Interviewed by Lesley Gibbs. Coffs Coast Heritage Museum, July 28, 1986.
“Photography Advertising,” Coffs Harbour Advocate, December 21, 1954. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/187618075
“Woman’s Prompt Action Quells Motorcycle Fire,” Coffs Harbour Advocate, June 17, 1952. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/187953523