Brian Brake is one of New Zealand’s best known photographers.
His career covered the golden age of photojournalism – his images featured in magazines around the world such as Life and Paris Match. He was passionate about New Zealand, the people and landscapes.
Te Papa is very fortunate to have been gifted the Brake collection by Brake’s partner Wai-man (Aman) Lau. There are around 115,000 images.
To be precise – if you count each one of the rolls of black and white film there are 114,000 images. There are 2,250 rolls of 35mm black and white film, 29,100 colour transparencies (or “slides”), and 5,250 large-format 4 x 5 inch transparencies and negatives.
The exhibition Brian Brake – lens on the world (which opened to the public on Saturday 23 October) and the Te Papa Press catalogue edited by Athol McCredie reveal the full sweep of Brian Brake’s life works. They also let viewers see some of the photographs as they were published in the magazines.
But wait there’s more! We’ve put together a Brian Brake website. Here you can explore around 300 images of Brake’s work, which feature in the exhibition and the book. There’s info about the images, about Brake’s life and work, and even a FAQ section.
A highlight for me are Brake’s beloved cameras - one has been handled and used so much that the black casing has been worn away. For the museum enthusiast that I am, to see Brake’s cameras was a classic “museum moment”.
If you still want more Brake images, you can explore all Brian Brake’s works in Collections Online. So far a large number of his images are viewable - and this will grow as more images are scanned.
The Brake exhibition, catalogue and website make a large part of the work Brian Brake created in his life time accessible - opening it up for exploration, new consideration and critical examination.