State Library Victoria is open ANZAC Day, Thursday 25 April, from 10 am to 6 pm.


Australia has a rich history of photography, and books covering the work of major figures such as Harold Cazneaux, Athol Shmith and Max Dupain can all be found in our collection, along with magazines, exhibition catalogues and general histories.

Photography was still a relatively new process when it first started to appear in the Library's book and magazine collections in the 1860s. A title such as The oxymel process in photography, published in 1856, approaches the subject from a technical rather than an aesthetic position, and arguments would continue into the 20th century concerning the artistic merits of the photograph.

The battle has been won, however, and photography now takes its place as one of the most dynamic and popular of all visual art forms. This is clearly reflected in the Library's book collections, which encompass both technical material and surveys of photographers from around the world.

Works on photography outside Australia cover almost every country, period and style, from the camp theatricality of French pair Pierre et Gilles to the brutal realism of war photographers such as Robert Capa and the contemporary Magnum group of photographers.

Photo-essays, histories, biographies, genre studies and technical manuals are all available through the Library's catalogue, with a large selection available for browsing in the Arts Reading Room.