At Te Papa, photos of 30 unidentified World War soldiers are on display in The Berry Boys: Naming the Kiwi faces of War. These men had their photographs taken at the Berry & Co studio sometime during the war, but we no longer know who they are.
The soldier subjects in another 30 ‘Berry Boys’ portraits, like the two men above, did not personally visit Berry & Co’s Cuba Street premises. In fact, some of these sitters are obviously posing at other studios, like the Purvis couple (below) who sat for “Zak” (photographer Joseph Zachariah) in Wellington.
So how did the negatives of these soldiers, their mates and loved ones come to be in Te Papa’s Berry collection of World War I solider portraits when the men in them did not come anywhere near the Berry studio?
These negatives exist because of a common practice which involved photographers re-photographing prints. Sometimes during the war, photos taken overseas were sent home and copied. If a soldier’s departure was rushed, friends and relatives had to make do with such copies. Or copies might be made after the death of a serviceman, to become memorials.
These copy photographs might be of a standard print mounted on a card, such as this one of the Sturmer group (above).
Some of the photos appear in frames, like this one of ‘Purves’ who is encircled by a coarsely textured fabric. It may be inserted in a soldiers’ writing kit, as these often incorporated oval windows for displaying photos.
William Vetori was obviously photographed as part of a group, but the person who paid for a copy – a family member, possibly his wife – asked Berry & Co to crop out the other men in the photo.