This book unearths a large and hitherto unknown number of women photographers, both professional and amateur, who operated in New Zealand from the 1860s to 1960, either as assistants in the early studios or later running studios in their own right. 

It takes the reader on a journey through the backrooms of nineteenth and early twentieth-century photographic studios, into private homes, out onto the street and up into the mountains, and looks at the range of photographic practices in which women were involved. Through superb images and fascinating individual stories, it brings an important group of photographers into the light.1 

The design reflected the quiet tone of the images, taking its colour cues from the hand-coloured images sprinkled throughout the book. 

I think this is the year’s most classically handsome book. The credit goes to designer Fiona Lascelles, who maintains an elegant tone across every page; the book has such a stillness, a sense of quiet. It’s as though the book itself is sitting for the kind of formalised portrait that author Lissa Mitchell writes about in her survey of New Zealand women photographers working from 1860-1960.

Author / Lissa Mitchell
Design / Fiona Lascelles
Publisher / Te Papa Press
Instore photo / Anna Mitchell
1.Te Papa website
2. Steve Braunius, Newsroom, 2023