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 storiesRead more

  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 onRead more

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 behindRead more

  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 wereRead more

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 buildingsRead more

Can you spot the arrow in the sky? This photographic postcard by photographer, James Daroux, was sent by Herman Wollerman to his father in Wellington from the Takapau Divisional training camp in the Hawkes’ Bay in May 1914. The camp was one of an annual series of training exercises organised by the NewRead more

The novel The Luminaries is set in Hokitika in 1866 with most of the story taking place amongst a selection of businesses in Revell Street. The mystery is relayed, distorted and formed through different conservations and social interactions between the characters. However missing from the numerous businesses portrayed in the bookRead more

At 3pm on the 19th August 1839, a joint meeting of the Academie des Sciences and the Academie des Beaux-Arts, heard from the politician and scientist, François Arago, about the details of a process that produced unbelievably fine detail and extraordinarily subtle tonality. Louis Daguerre, who had been working onRead more

I am quite fond of some of the new photographs in the collection which are a set of cabinet card format studio portraits from the late nineteenth century. Many of them were taken by photographers working in the South Island in places such as Lyttelton, Ashburton, Gore and Blenheim. I’mRead more

I don’t much like having my portrait taken. The longer the process goes on, and the more expectant I am of a good result, the worse it seems to get. So how much do you have to know about being photographed to get a good portrait? How many times do youRead more