Photography

19th century

The Holtermann Collection: photographic documentation of goldfields life in Australia

In 1951, a hoard of 3,500 glass plate negatives from the nineteenth century was discovered in a garden shed in Chatswood.

Reconstructing the Holtermann: the world's largest collodion glass-plate negatives

What do you do when one of the world’s largest wet-plate glass negatives, weighing over 30 kilos, smashes into hundreds of pieces?

Contact prints

Portrait of Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung people from the 1870s show how photography shaped race relationships in the nineteenth century. 

Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this story contains names and images of deceased people.

Crowd source: 1880s Sydney through a hidden camera

These “hidden camera” photos of Sydney street life from the 1880s instantly transport us back in time.

Shakespeare - his birthplace, home and grave

In 1864 the Reverend John M. Jephson published his book on the birthplace, home, and grave of Shakespeare. Nestled within the pages of text are a series of photographs of sites relating to Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-on-Avon.

20th century

Under the sun: 15 artists respond to Dupain's Sunbaker

Max Dupain’s Sunbaker has inspired an exhibition of contemporary and thought-provoking artworks. 

Colour in darkness: hand-coloured photographs from World War I

In the early 1920s, an exhibition of war photographs toured Australia, attracting crowds and enthusiastic reviews. Many of the photographs had been taken by Australian servicemen and were enlarged and coloured at Colarts Studios.

Reviving "The Pictorial Panorama of the Great War"

Hand-coloured photographs by ‘digger artists’ are displayed together for the first time in almost 100 years.

Frank Hurley's WWI photography

Hurley's photographs of the western front in 1917 and the Middle East in 1918 are arresting and iconic.

Shooting the war: Australia's first Oscar

'There'll be so much to be done when this is all finished…So many big subjects to be covered where the right kind of film will be useful.' Damien Parer (1943)

Dupain's images of Penrith, 1948

The newly acquired the Max Dupain Exhibition Negative Archive with more than 25,000 negatives focuses on the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Slide show

The quirky and obscure Hallams slide collection is a curator’s dream, revealing ordinary Australian gardens in the 1960s and 70s.

Photography - Sydney exposed

Photography - Sydney exposed takes the first step in providing an online gateway to thousands of images highlighting the history and changing nature of Sydney, Australia's first and largest metropolis.

Boy oh boy!

In 25 years at the State Library, our Curator of Photographs has seen four people cry.

Australian Photo Review

 The longevity of the Australian Photo-Review marks it as the most significant in terms of insights into the development of photography in Australia 1894 through to the last issue which appeared in December 1956. It is now available online.

Antarctica: Frank Hurley

As the official photographer on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Frank Hurley provided a remarkable record of the dangers and heroism of Antarctic exploration in the early twentieth century.

21st century

Flash mob

Photographs from the Deadly Awards by Jamie James.

Family Keeps Us Going

Portraits and Stories of Families of Aboriginal Nations Living in South-West Sydney by Jagath Dheerasekara.

Michael Riley's A Common Place: Portraits of Moree Murries

A Common Place displays 15 dramatic portraits of Moree Murries taken by Michael Riley, one of Australia’s leading Indigenous contemporary artists.

Celebration: Jewish community photographs

The images from this collection take us into the lives of a Sydney community, revealing its religious and community events.

The modern garden

Outstanding gardens are revealed by leading photographers in a new exhibition.

ANZAC Day captured in 2015

One hundred years after troops landed at Gallipoli, the Library commissioned five professional photographers to document how the people of New South Wales spent 25 April, 2015.