‘This is a first-rate book. It reproduces some superb and utterly distinctive imagery.’ – Sebastian Smee, Art Newspaper

With its moving landscapes and famously independent cultural traditions, Australia is uniquely suited to having its national narrative told through visual documentation. Helen Ennis gathers here a selection of photographs that recount the story of Australia, and through this visual chronicle, she uncovers a distinctively Australian visual culture.

The striking images featured in Photography and Australia, in the new ‘Exposures’ series, documents the iconic sights of the rugged Australian landscape such as the imposing Uluru, or Ayers Rock, as well as documentary photographs, wilderness shots, post-mortem studies of bushrangers and other images both quotidian and extraordinary. A leading Australian photography historian, Ennis argues that the colonial experience is a central element of these visual testaments, and embedded within this experience are the tumultuous relations between white settlers and Aboriginal peoples.

Her analysis explores how the photographs reveal the racial, social and political tensions woven throughout Australian history, ranging from modern works by Aboriginal photographers to archival photographs of desolate mining towns and the peoples who eked out their living from the brutal terrain. The photographers’ personal perspectives are also embedded in the images, Photography and Australia argues, and the book examines how photographers’ responses to place, modernity and globalization were expressed through their works. Photography and Australia unearths an original and engaging perspective on Australian history, weaving a wealth of images into a compelling, informative account.

220 x 190 mm
144 pages
80 illustrations, 20 in colour
ISBN: 9781861893239
Published by Reaktion Books

Table of Contents


  1. First Photographs
  2. Black to Blak
  3. Land and Landscape
  4. Being Modern
  5. Made in Australia
  6. Localism and Internationalism
  7. The Presence of the Past

Photo Acknowledgements


Part of the Exposures photography

Mentioned in Unreliable witness, review for A Century in Focus 1840s-1940s: South Australian photography for The Australian.

Goodreads page


Media Culture review: Photography and Australia – History through Image

‘This is an excellent survey of the major developments, practitioners and icons of Australian photography, providing a wide-ranging, inclusive overview . . . Generously illustrated with eighty images, and written in a clear, accessible style, seven chapters cover themes and periods ranging across the entire span of photographic practice in Australia since 1841, and constituting a valuable introduction to the medium’s main developments in broad historical context.’

– Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

‘Helen Ennis weaves together eighty photographs to thoughtfully argue for the centrality of photographic image-making to the Australian experience of being a settler nation . . . Ennis is to be commended for providing a thought-provoking work about the multiple visual histories of, and in, photography that emerged from Australia, and by which pasts, presents and futures of the nation are being negotiated.’

– Pacific Affairs

‘. . . prior to Helen Enniss Photography and Australia arguably only three books of any significance had been published on the topic. Enniss survey is distinguished however by more than its mere arrival. Central to her inquiry is the argument that photography in Australia has been inescapably shaped by the countrys colonial invasion / inception . . . One of the most commendable aspects is Enniss critical analysis of the medium in relation to the complexity of indigenous and settler Australian relations.’

– Source

Available from

Reaktion Books
Google Books[