Born in Naracoorte in South Australia in 1900, Anton Bruehl grew up there and in rural Victoria before moving to Melbourne in 1914. In 1919, Anton and his brother Martin left Australia for New York. There Anton worked as an electrical engineer until 1923, when he embraced his interest in photography to study with Clarence H White, the famous impressionist-style Pictorialist photographer and teacher. White’s influence can be seen in Bruehl’s earliest work, which has the low tone, soft focus and simplified forms of Pictorialism. As the decade progressed, his work took on the sharper focus, contrast and dynamic composition of the modernist style.
White believed that photography could serve advertising as well as art, and many of his students had successful commercial careers. Bruehl was no exception, and started his own studio in mid 1926, recruiting brother Martin as a partner in 1927. In that first year he began working on a major account for the menswear company Weber and Heilbroner; his silhouetted Fabric Group images for this campaign appeared in the pages of The New Yorker from January 1927 through to December 1928.