Exhibition themes
The works in the exhibition are gathered into themes.
Click a theme title to your right to view them.

For the millions
the trade in views and portraits
1860s–80s

By the mid 1860s, wet-plate glass-negatives and albumen prints were well established and a paradise of picture opportunities for photographers opened up. Through preservation in specially designed albums, personal and celebrity portraits and local and exotic travel images could be collected.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 increased the numbers of globetrotters in the Asia–Pacific region. Photographers hauled their travelling wet-plate photography outfits to places as diverse as the local town hall and the peaks of the Himalayas. They competed to make ever more ambitious panoramas – the nearly ten-metre-long panorama of Sydney Harbour of 1875 is one of the largest.

From around 1860, the small carte de visite (calling-card) became a craze. Cheap but high-quality, the portraits and views were popular across all social levels. Cartes-de-visite and larger prints of exotic places and people became a sideline most photographers added to their business to sell to tourists and export back to Europe.