CHANCE, George

Pictorial Photographer

born 15 May 1885 Liverpool, England [1]
son of George James Chance [8] (commercial traveller) and Charlotte Pritchard [11]
arrived New Zealand December 1909 [1]
died 28 September 1963, Dunedin aged 78 years
buried 1 October 1963 Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin block 168 plot 154 [2]


17 April 1912 at the residence of the bride's parents Opoho, Dunedin [8]
Nellie Louisa Chandler  
reg. 1912/4264 New Zealand
born circa 1886, reg. 1886/4953
second daughter of Samuel Livingstone Chandler [3] and Ellen Bowden
died 9 January 1952 at 1 Royal Terrace, Dunedin aged 65 years
buried 11 January 1952 Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin block 168 plot 154 [2]

Otago Daily Times, Issue 15458, 20 May 1912, Page 4 

1. Lorna Ellen Chance (Mrs Robert O'Connell Shiel [7] later Mrs Gibson) born 9 October 1913 at Nurse Mathieson's, Royal Terrace, Dunedin [4],  died circa 2012, reg. 2012/2482.

2. George Roger Chance born 21 June 1916 at Nurse Mathieson's, Royal Terrace, Dunedin [5], died 17 January 2008 Dunedin aged 91 [6], reg. 2008/2602 [Dunedin optometrist and a highly regarded photographer, especially of bird-life.] Ashes buried Green Park Cemetery, Dunedin block 5S, plot 9.

3. Alan Leonard Chance born 1 January 1920 died 1980 reg. 1980/32361

4. Gwenda Maude Chance (Mrs Porteous) born  14 February 1922 died circa 2007 reg. 2007/21435

1891 census - 15 Bow Lane, Poplar, London aged 5 scholar
1901 census - 37 Beaconsfield Road, Leyton, Essex aged 15 office boy

George Chance joined the London photographic firm of George Houghton & Son in 1901 later becoming a show room demonstrator. In about 1904 he was employed by The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company Limited of Regent Street as a tutor to clients which included Winston Churchill, Bernard Shaw, the Earl of Warwick, the Crown Prince of Siam, Lord Curzon, Lord Roberts and William Schwenck Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan. [9]

New Zealand
He arrived in New Zealand in 1909 and was employed by Dawson Limited in Dunedin as an eyesight specialist.

... George Chance (1885-1963) arrived as a disciple of the pictorialist practice. He had received personal tutelage from Alfred Horsley Hinton - a member of the Linked Ring Brotherhood and an associate of Henry Peach Robinson. Chance had an energetic and commanding personality, and soon emerged as a leading force in New Zealand Pictorialism.  [10]

Otago Daily Times, Issue 14738, 22 January 1910, Page 15
This notice first appeared in the Otago Daily Times on 12 January 1910.

Otago Daily Times, Issue 14765, 23 February 1910, Page 3

George Chance
not numbered
249 x 198 mm.
Gelatin silver print on paper mounted on card

Property Sale.
Messrs Sievwright, Haggitt, and Co. submitted to auction at their rooms yesterday 27 sections (extension No. 3) in the township of Warrington, the property of Mr D. Ferguson. There was a good attendance of the public, and competition was fairly keen, 22 out of the 27 sections offered finding purchasers at satisfactory prices. The following sales were effected ...lot 7, Mr G. Chance, £30...
Otago Daily Times, Issue 15623, 28 November 1912, Page 6

Otago Daily Times, Issue 15683, 8 February 1913, Page 15
[first published in the Otago Daily Times on 28 January 1913]

above and below - two photographs of the opticians Dawson Limited showing George Chance's consultation room and workshop. These photographs were found inside a book previously owned by George Roger Chance. A similar copy of one of these photographs can be seen on the University of Otago - Hocken Collections' website located here

President of the New Zealand Optical Association in 1913.
Press, Volume XLIX, Issue 14626, 29 March 1913, Page 4

In 1917, he joined the Dunedin Photographic Society ...
New Zealand Photography from the 1840s to the Present. William Main and John B. Turner. 1993. 

Otago Art Society 42nd Annual Exhibition. General Section G. Chance hon. mention.
Otago Daily Times, Issue 17536, 30 January 1919, Page 9

Art Society's Exhibition November 1919
... There is something very subtle and pleasing about the "Sunlit Gums" (No. 5) of Mr G. Chance. The print, however, requires some stronger accents in places ... In "Sand Dunes" (No. 57) Mr Chance has provided a luminous sky, but the sandhills are rather dark, and too much liberty appears to have been taken with the lighting on the foreground sand. "George" (No. 63), also by Mr Chance, is extremely pleasing, and stands well out, with almost stereoscopic effect. The head needs placing a little higher on the print, but its main defect is in the lack of life in the eyes ... Mr Chance and Mr Beck contribute some charming prints for exhibition only. Every photographer should make a point of seeing this excellent collection of pictorial photographs.
Otago Daily Times, Issue 17783, 15 November 1919, Page 7

Mr George Chance is shortly leaving for an extended business trip on behalf of his firm, Messrs Dawson (Ltd.). He intends to visit England, the Continent, the United States, Canada, Japan, and China.
Otago Daily Times, Issue 17854, 9 February 1920, Page 6

Personal Notes from London (from our own Correspondent)
Mr George Chance (Dunedin) is on a business trip on behalf of his firm, Messrs Dawsons (Limited). He will be here until early in August, when he will leave for the United States, en route for Japan and China. Mr Chance, who has lived in New Zealand for ten years, says he finds London very little altered in the interval, but that he has no desire to change the town of his adoption.
Otago Daily Times, Issue 18003, 2 August 1920, Page 6

Evening Post, Volume CIV, Issue 95, 19 October 1922, Page 2

1923 - admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.

PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION The exhibition of photography this year is not so extensive as in past years, but there are some arresting works, showing the earnestness and industry of the amateur. The greater number of first prizes in open classes were awarded George Chance, Dunedin, with examples of portraiture, marine studies, and landscape. Wellington amateurs securing prizes were G. E. Cousins (shipping, portrait of a girl, and landscape, The Mill-head"), all firsts; H. C. Milne (shipping), and Miss Johnson ("The Road") took second prizes. There were 24 entrants representative of Dunedin, New Plymouth. Wanganui, Palmerston North, and Wellington.
Evening Post, Volume CIX, Issue 140, 17 June 1925, Page 12

George Chance
Labourers of the Field, 1925
no. 2375
210 x 160 mm.

 George Chance
Christs College, Christchurch, NZ

Show Week at Palmerston North:
PHOTOGRAPHIC SECTION. The photographic section has always been a feature of the Winter Show, and this year is no exception. Although entries are not so large as usual, the quality is very high, and included in the exhibits were some really remarkable photographs. George Chance, the well-known Dunedin photographer, was again a prominent exhibitor in the open classes, and his view of Warrington Bay, Otago, was a very fine piece of Work...
Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 144, 20 June 1928, Page 23

Evening Post, Volume CVI, Issue 94, 1 November 1928, Page 2

Palmerston North's Winter Carnival:
Photographic Section. A very high opinion of the work of competitors in the photographic section was expressed by the judge (Mr. A. H. Eaton, Wellington). He said that over a period of years he had been judging at the show he had never seen such a fine exhibition of pictures. There was a marked advance in the standard, and in addition there was an evenness of quality that had not been apparent in former years. In fact the judging had given him some difficulty in separating, the first pictures in the various classes ... In the open classes, the standard was also high. "Now Comes Still Evening On" (Geo. Chance), in the landscape section, was really a charming landscape ... In the New Zealand landscape section ..."Franz Josef Glacier" (Geo. Chance) was a noble work ... "Heavy Seas" (Geo. Chance) was a bit of. realism ... In the section "any picture taken within the last twelve months," Mr. Geo. Chance's "Stately Bluegums," was the best landscape, in the show ... Winners in the open classes of the photography section were Mr. George Chance, the well-known Otago exhibitor, without whose pictures no show at Palmerston North would be complete...
Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 141, 17 June 1931, Page 21

George Change
The family of Mr. H. H. Fisher of Christchurch

 Pictorial Art.
Work of George Chance.
The Auckland Society of Arts' eight-day exhibition of the photographic work of George Chance, F.R.P.S., was officially opened by the vice-president, Dr. E. B. Gunson, at a luncheon to-day.

Dr. Gunson said that the work of George Chance had been well recognised throughout the photographic world. This was the first chance Aucklanders had had of seeing work of such merit. He said the photographs were all on bromide paper, and were free from artistic manipulation. They were distinguished by qualities of composition rarely seen in modern landscape photography.

It was stated by a member of the council that "The Labourers in the Field" and "In the Awakino Valley" were particularly fine pieces of work.
Auckland Star, Volume LXIII, Issue 276, 21 November 1932, Page 5

Auckland Star, Volume LXIII, Issue 280, 25 November 1932, Page 14

Photographic Art
Dunedin Man's Success

(By Telegraph.) (Special to the "Evening Post.")
Dunedin, This Day

Another notable success has been scored by the Dunedin photographic artist Mr. George Chance, who has won the silver cup for landscapes at the second international exhibition held by Hong Kong University. The prizewinning photograph was "A Summer Day, Canterbury."

Among the celebrated photographers who also exhibited were the Hon. Alex, Keighley, Messrs. Leonard Misonne, Frank R. Fraprie, and J. N. Unwalla.

Mr. Chance has this year won world recognition us a photographer. He had four works hung in the Salon International d'Art Photographique, Paris, and works wore also accepted for the London Salon.
Evening Post, Volume CXVI, Issue 131, 30 November 1933, Page 19

Outstanding Photographers
As New Zealand is a land richly endowed with natural beauty and with phenomena of great scientific interest, it was natural that photography should become the hobby of many individuals interested in recording its beauty and its natural history. Some of these persons became members of the Royal Photographic Society of London and attained great distinction internationally in the field of photography. Especial mention should be made of Gerald E. Jones, of Wellington, who became the first New Zealand born photographer to earn the title F.R.P.S., gaining this distinction in 1912. George Chance of Dunedin, elected F.R.P.S. in 1923, shares with Jones the honours for pictorial photography in New Zealand. In 1954 Chance became overseas (New Zealand) corresponding member of the council of the Royal Photographic Society. William C. Davies, appointed photographer to the Cawthron Institute in 1920, paid much attention to photographing New Zealand natural history, particularly plants. He was awarded an A.R.P.S. in 1931, followed in 1932 by F.R.P.S.; later, in 1938, he became the first and only Hon. F.R.P.S. for New Zealand. In 1934 Davies was awarded the R.P.S. Gold Medal for his photographic work in the fields of science. During his years of service to the Cawthron Institute, Davies amassed a collection of many thousands of negatives, a small selection from which is reproduced in his book New Zealand Plants. Davies retired from the Cawthron Institute in 1945 but continued actively in scientific photography until his death in 1952.

Professional portrait photography became accepted in New Zealand very early in its development. The standard of portrait work in this country has always been high and several notable photographers have arisen in this sphere.

'Outstanding Photographers', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 22-Apr-09

George Chance
Museum Entrance, Christchurch

George Chance
Near Punakaiki, West Coast

George Chance
Maori Women in Native Costume

George Chance
A Maori Salutation

George Chance
Auckland University College

George Chance or Lennard Casbolt
The Avon in the City

George Chance
Meybelle Bay, on the Westport-Greymouth Coast Road

George Chance
The River Avon, Christchurch

George Chance
Canterbury College

George Chance
Otago University, Dunedin

George Chance
Otago Boy's High School

George Chance
Dunedin from the Town Belt

George Chance
Morning Sunshine, Town Belt, Dunedin

George Chance
The Resting Team, Harvesting in South Otago

George Chance
Beech Forest, Paradise at the Head of Lake Wakatipu
This print was first exhibited with the Otago Art Society in 1917

George Chance
Flying Spray at Curio Bay

George Chance
The Roaring Meg, Kawarau Gorge

George Chance
A Pioneer's Homestead

 George Chance
Franz Joseph Glacier, Southern Alps

 George Chance
Aratiatia Rapids, Wairakei

George Chance
Evening Light, Lake Taupo

 George Chance
Geyser Valley, Wairakei
Pictorial New Zealand - Photographic Studies, Whitcombe & Tomes Ltd

George Chance
Autumn, Geraldine, South Canterbury

George Chance
Gold Miners' Tents, Deep Creek, Otago
Century - Dunedin after the First Hundred Years
The Junior Chamber of Commerce - 1948 

George Chance
Cottages at Arrowtown, Otago
Century - Dunedin after the First Hundred Years
The Junior Chamber of Commerce - 1948

George Chance
Hydro station on Waitaki River, Otago
Century - Dunedin after the First Hundred Years
The Junior Chamber of Commerce - 1948

George Chance
At Harvest Time
Camera Study
Plate XIX - Art In New Zealand - A Quarterly Magazine
June, 1929, page 262

Art New Zealand - Number 47 / Winter 1988, Lucy Alcock,  As Chance Would Have It: The Photographs of George Chance (1885-1963) pages 96-98.
Century - Dunedin after the First Hundred Years, 1848-1948, The Junior Chamber of Commerce - 1948.
Discovery, The South Islands Travel Association of New Zealand Incorporated Vol. 3. no. 25 October 1939
George Chance: Photographs, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, John McIndoe Ltd., 1985
Pictorial New Zealand - Photographic Studies, Whitcombe & Tomes Ltd,  before October 1944.

[1] George Chance: Photographs published 1985 by the Dunedin Art Gallery.
[2] Dunedin City Council Cemetery database.
[3] or Samuel Livingston Chandler.
[4] Otago Daily Times, Issue 15896, 16 October 1913, Page 6
[5] Otago Daily Times, Issue 16729, 24 June 1916, Page 6
[6] Otago Boy's High School - recent deaths. 
[8] Otago Daily Times, Issue 15458, 20 May 1912, Page 4 
[9] Photography in New Zealand - A Social and Technical History by Hardwicke Knight, 1971
[10] Into the Light - A History of New Zealand Photography, David Eggleton 2006, page 49. 
[11]  Marriages Mar 1885 Chance George James West Derby vol. 8b page 741


Zinnia Edge said...

Love these photos. I have been very fortunate to have found an original photo by this photographer of Otago University and am very happy to add it to my collection. Ithe image has a lovely softness to it.

Zinnia Edge said...

Love this site. Love the photos too. I have been extremely fortunate to have found an original print of the University of Otago by this photographer and am very happy to add it to my collection. The atmosphere and composition of the photos shown on this site shows softness, interest or movement which I find very appealing. Thanks for the information provided. : )

Anonymous said...

Are you sure it is just a print? Most of his photographs came up as originals in auctions and sold for a very reasonable price a few years back. ($100-200).

alison peberday said...


I have an original by George Chance - it is

Toi Toi Grass, Wakiki coast NZ

Can anyone elaborate on this for me.

It has the signature and the original framers on the back etc.

The photo is lovely of the dunes into the coast and has a storminess about it.

Marie Deroles said...


Have purchased a framed photograph of Geo Chances titled "Path beside Lake Tutira". Had never heard of this photographer before so was pleased to find background on him. Brought the photograph as live in the Hawkes bay. It is a stunning shot with hand written title and signature, and original framers label on the back.

Neville Sevicke-Jones said...

I knew Gwenda Chance>>Porteous in Dunedin, as her two sons were school friends of mine. I'd like to find examples of Mrs Porteous' artwork ( we weren't on first name terms in the 60s ) but not a trace so far.