This site shows the many great historical photographs of Tasmania that were taken from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. This was the great period of early photography. Historical photographs of Tasmania were initially just historical documents, but many of them were good and very good photographs in their own right rather than just support to a place’s history. Early photographs when they got it right, given the the large plate cameras used,were technically superior to the even digital cameras of today. Photographers took many technically perfect historical photographs of Tasmania. The major photographers featured, were Beattie, Spurling, Crawford Smithies.
In the early period of Australian photography, Tasmanian photography was richer, more prolific, having Australia’s first art exhibitions, and probably more artistic than anything produced at the time in the larger population centres, such as Sydney. Mainly this reflected the larger number of amateur artists and photographers living in Tasmania. In Tasmania there was an established tradition of gentlemanly pursuit of the arts which was supported by their affluence and their interest in the subject matter of an attractive landscape; familiar, cool and reminiscent of Europe. Many of Australia’s early photographers also made it a point to travel to Tasmania.
Tasmania had the first professional photographer in Australia with GB Goodman opening a studio in Hobart in 1943 producing daguerreotype portraits. This historical photograph of tasmania was a small expensive with only single images and tended to lend them selves to portraiture only. With the introduction of the wet plate in 1855, many copies of the same photograph were able to be reproduced. This took photography out of the hands of the affluent few who could afford it.With the introduction of the dry-plate in 1879, photography became more portable, and easier. Photographers did not have to cart their darkroom around with them.