Long before smartphones and selfies, people visited a studio portrait photographer to capture an image of themselves they wanted to share with the world. Museum of Brisbane’s new exhibition Sit. Pose. Snap: Brisbane Portrait Photography 1850 – 1950 explores the first one hundred years of portrait photography in Brisbane from 1850.
Sit. Pose. Snap. explores the phenomenon of studio portrait photography in Brisbane, and shows how the process of capturing and sharing a portrait evolved from the formal studio sittings of the 19th century through to candid and relaxed photographs of the mid-20th century.
With the introduction of commercial photography in the mid 1850s, dozens of photographic studios popped up in and around Brisbane capitalising on this popular new technology. Interest in this novel sensation was high, and profitable – with photographers increasingly savvy when it came to selling their service and products.
Featuring hundreds of Brisbane residents captured in original photographs from local studios between 1850 -1950, this exhibition draws from the extensive private collection of Marcel Safier – one of Australia’s most significant collectors of portrait photography.
Discover the variety, trends and historical progression of photographic types through this period, from the early forms of daguerreotypes through to carte-de-visites and postcards. Woven into the exhibition is an examination of photographic techniques and technologies; the popularisation of photography; and the ever-increasing control that subjects have over their portrayal.
Significant Brisbane photographic houses of the period and their legacies are also featured. Visitors will have the chance to experience what it felt like to visit Mathewson & Co., one of the leading studios of the time, through an immersive Victorian backdrop and a journalist’s account from 1889. They will also have a chance to take a selfie in this recreated 19th century studio space.
From personal portraits capturing life’s most significant milestones, to the curious and often humorous ways in which people presented themselves, Sit. Pose. Snap. is a charming and nostalgic glimpse into a 19th century photographic studio.
Sit. Pose. Snap. Brisbane Portrait Photography 1850 – 1950
Museum of Brisbane, Level 3 – Brisbane City Hall, King George Square, Brisbane
Exhibition continues to 30 July 2017
For more information, visit: www.museumofbrisbane.com.au for details.
Image: courtesy of the Museum of Brisbane