Posts written by Lissa Mitchell

Cold comfort photography

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 It is the beginning of June in New Zealand and if you are a photographer it is the perfect time to go camping. Despite the dire warnings from his friend (referred to as ‘Titfaddle’) concerning the folly of making a six week camping trip in the middle of winter, Alfred Burton and his son Harold, left Dunedin for Lakes Te Anau and… Read more »

On getting in touch about family photographs

Edward and Sarah Corner, Frank Sutcliffe (UK), 1901, cabinet card, courtesy of Ann McDonald.

  One of the nicest things about having so much of Te Papa’s photography collection online is when people write in to say that we hold a photograph of some of their ancestors and are able to identify the people in the photographs. Until recently this large framed photograph of the Read family (above) was… Read more »

Autochromes from the Te Papa collection

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Te Papa’s beautiful collection of early colour photographs made using the autochrome process is the focus of new article published by the online journal The Public Domain Review. The article can be accessed on either The Public Domain Review or OpenGlam. Lissa Mitchell – Curator Historical Documentary Photography More Photography? Follow Lissa on Twitter

Photography and Te Papa in 2014

O.31243 Bill Gamble & his festive bottle

I have a confession: I am a bit of a vampire of sorts. I feed on Te Papa’s Photography collection – I use it to think and process ideas, to research and to write. Over the last year I have focused on what I believe counts: connections between photography and small stories about people and places, especially in the… Read more »

William H. Macey – making a fine art of studio portrait photography

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I’ve said in a previous blog post that Blenheim photographer William Macey’s cabinet cards elevated the format to an art form. So I thought I had better demonstrate my point by putting together a blog of some of his best studio portraits from those in Te Papa’s photography collection. What I admire about these portraits from his… Read more »

Shooting the Past – the photographic archive as subject

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  Recently I’ve been watching a BBC TV mini series about a doomed photography archive – Shooting the Past. The series was released in 1999 and I don’t know how I missed seeing it then but I was busy writing a dissertation on colonial photography (or maybe it didn’t even get played on TV here). The show presents… Read more »

Recent acquisition – ambrotype of a couple in front of a wall

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There is so much to admire about this beautiful ambrotype recently acquired for Te Papa’s photography collection – look at the couple’s cheeks touched up by hand in pink, their jewellery and clothing. I also like that the couple are posed in front of the photographer’s studio interior wall fitted with a dado rail (centre behind the couple’s chests) and panel… Read more »

1933/16 – an old acquisition of photographs

E. S. Richards, Original Post Office, Featherston Street, circa 1865,

  One of my favourite groups of photographs in the collection is a series of carte-de-visite prints all bound together by the number ‘1933/16’. From this number we know that this small group of photographs was the 16th group of objects acquired by the Dominion Museum in 1933. We also know that they were gifted by Mrs E. W…. Read more »

Where in Whanganui or thereabouts? A curator’s plea for help!

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I need your help to identify the buildings and locations in a small selection of early cartes-de-visite photographs which are mostly of Whanganui. These photographs were taken by William Harding who operated a long running photographic studio in the city in the second half of the 19th century. Some of these buildings may no longer exist but… Read more »