Mug shot of Ah Chong, 11 July 1928, Central Police Station, Sydney.
g, accessories) and physical characteristics."
Special Photograph no. D62 (Drug Bureau photograph). An 'Ah Chong' is listed in the NSW Police Gazette of 21 June 1922, convicted of two charges of receiving, for which he received 12 months hard labour. No listing is found in the Police Gazette for Ah Chong in 1928, when this photograph was taken. An 'Ah Chong' appears in the NSW Criminal Register some years later, but the picture accompanying that entry shows a different man to the one shown here.
This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1960. These "special photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothin