The world owes a debt of gratitude to James Francis “Frank” Hurley. The Australian photographer and adventurer took part in a number of expeditions to Antarctica, documenting with his camera a place that most of humanity will never get to see or set foot on.

Hurley’s Antarctic photographs have more than documentary value, however. They are artistic expressions of one who shared the spirit of adventure of the explorers and felt their sense of isolation, hope and despair as they trekked through the icy region.

The following are a few examples of Hurley’s skill as a photographer. They were taken during the 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition and the 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Read about the life and work of Frank Hurley here.

Sir Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition in the ‘SY Aurora’, 1911–1914

[Antarctic views], 1911–1914
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

Mushroom ice formation, 1912
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

Blizzard at Cape Denison, Antarctica, c. 1912
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

The fo’c’stle head of the ‘Aurora’ sheathed with ice after a blizzard in Commonwealth Bay, c. 1913
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the National Library of Australia

Aurora traversing loose pack ice entering the Durville Sea, Dec. 1913
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

The ‘Aurora’ lying at anchor, Commonwealth Bay, c. 1913
Photo by Hurley, Frank (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the National Library of Australia

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in the ‘Endurance’, 1914–1917

On the bow of the Endurance, 1915
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

The ‘Endurance’ held up in the pack ice, Weddell Sea, December 1914
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

A mid-winter glow, Weddell Sea [showing The ‘Endurance’], 1915
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

The Deck of the ‘Endurance’, 1915
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

Tongues of ice were driven below the ship forcing her up onto the floe and throwing her onto the beam ends
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

The ‘Endurance’ crushed in mid-sea by the pressure ice, 1916
Photo by Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales

Get this free book about Sir Ernest Shackletons last expedition to Antarctica:

South: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition 1914-1917 by Sir Ernest Shackleton

~ Barista Uno

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