Marcel Safier

Photographic Historian
Photograph, Glass Plate Camera and Postcard Collector

Brisbane, Australia

I grew up in Surfers Paradise, Queensland on Australia’s Gold Coast and developed an early interest in photography through using my mother’s Kodak Box Brownie, gradually upgrading to better and more capable cameras. At 15 my interest in early photography was stimulated by a gift of early family photographs and two old folding cameras from a relative. A year later I acquired some old photos from an antique shop and I have collected them along with old cameras ever since.

In 1984 I graduated in Medicine from the University of Queensland and later started working as a General Practitioner on Brisbane’s south side which I have done for the past 27+ years. In 1992 I purchased a Brisbane family photograph album and I became more curious about local photographers. It turned out the grand children of two of the photographers whose work was in the album were patients of mine. Since then I have keenly researched the lives of Brisbane photographers. This research was eventually extended to photographers from other parts of Queensland, then Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, France, South Africa, South America and the Pacific and contact with hundreds of descendants and relations of photographers as well as many other photographic historians and curators around the world.

Friendships with fellow collectors and researchers Sandy Barrie in Queensland, Warwick Reeder (Melbourne - RIP), Robert (Bob) Noye (South Australia - RIP), Dennis O'Hoy (Bendigo), Ron Cosens, John Hannavy, Hugh Rayner (all in England), Francois Boisjoly (Lyon - who has the largest collection of French cartes de visite), super-collector Matt Isenburg (USA - RIP), Jan Schimmelman and Cindy Motzenbekker (USA) have greatly increased my enthusiasm and knowledge. My collection has grown to over 45,000 old photographs, 1200+ magic lantern slides, 2000+ glass plate negatives and 15,000+ postcards. It is particularly strong in Australian carte de visite photos and cabinet photos, but my extensive collection also includes many British glass plate cameras and pre-1930s photographic catalogues.

I collaborate and provide research support for Ron Cosens' massive and comprehensive database of Photographers of Great Britain and Ireland 1840-1940 website and Sandy Barrie's ongoing research for an updated edition of his directory "Australians Behind the Camera 1842-1945" that will hoepfully be published in 2018.

I have spoken to historical societies, collector’s groups and photographic conventions on aspects of photographic history and collecting, created photographic history websites, authored monographs on photographers, contributed to the Routledge “Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography” and provided info to authors for books on photographic history in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, India, China and the USA. I have attended an large array of photographic trade fairs, symposiums and conventions in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France and the USA and look forward to attending many more.

Sit. Pose. Snap was an exhibition based on my collection and research into Brisbane photographers and
featured over 330 photos taken in Brisbane by professional and amateur photographers.

Museum of Brisbane, 3rd Floor, Brisbane City Hall
64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
24 March-30 July 2017


Currently researching:

- Photographers of Brisbane 1850-1950 (for a future publication) as well as all other 19th century Australian photographers
- the history of the carte de visite and cabinet photograph in Australia
- postcards of the Gold Coast region of Queensland (Southport, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Miami, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Coolangatta, Tweed Heads)
- World War 1 studio photography


Daguerreian Society
Photographic Historical Society of Canada
Cameraholics (Photographic Collectors Club of Queensland) - webmaster
Australian Photographic Collector’s Society
Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain
Photographic Collectors Association of New Zealand
Queensland Card Collector’s Society Inc - webmaster

Internet memberships:

Photohistory Yahoo group
British Photohistory online forum
Wood and Brass camera collectors group - Yahoo group - Moderator
Carte de visite - Yahoo group
The Daguerreian Society - Facebook group
Carte de Visite and Cabinet Card Photography - Facbook group
Glass Negative Collectors - Facebook group
Canadian Photographic History - Facebook group
Sociedad Iberoamericana de Historia de la Fotografía - Facebook group
History of Photography European Network - Facebook group
Storia Della Fotografia - Facebook group
Cameraholics - Facebook group (admin)
Photographic Preservation Society of South Australia - Facebook group (admin)

Photographers of Brisbane, Australia 1850-1950

Was your ancestor or relation a Brisbane photographer? If so, please get in contact as I would be happy to exchange information. I have been researching the lives of Australian photographers and collecting examples of their work for over 25 years.

19th and early 20th century Australian,
New Zealand and Pacific photographs
(especially cartes de visite plus tintypes, daguerreotypes, stereoviews, magic lantern glass slides, glass negatives, old family and other photo albums

WANTED: Dallmeyer, Ross, Beck, Wray, Optimus, Voigtlander and other brands of brass camera lenses, wood bellows cameras by British manufacturers such as Meagher, George Hare, W. W. Rouch, Houghtons, Ensign, Butcher, Sanderson, Thornton Pickard, Dolland, Sands and Hunter, Perken, Son and Rayment, Chapman and magic lantern projectors

ALSO: old (pre 1930) British photographic catalogues, photographic journals, books and British Journal of Photography almanacs

WANTED: Postcards of Australians serving in WW1 with accompanying letters and documents etc. keenly sought

WANTED: Gold Coast (Queensland) photographs and postcards sought from the 19th century up to the 1970s.

I welcome offers of old and interesting photographic items for sale including single items, collections, accumulations and deceased estates. 

Donations of unwanted photographs, postcards, albums and camera gear are gratefully accepted. Postage paid.


The Gem and Carte de Visite Tintype
history of an under-researched and often derided photographic form

Brisbane Cameraholics Web Site
Brisbane based group of camera and photographica collectors who meet monthly

Queensland Card Collector's Society Home Page
I collect old postcards and am a long time member of the Queensland Card Collectors Society which is a club for collectors of postcards, cigarette cards and trade cards. 

Photographers of Great Britain & Ireland 1840-1940
The most definitive listing of photographers assembled anywhere based on the massive photograph collection of Ron Cosens, augmented by directory research by Sandy Barrie with census and biographical input from myself.

Family History
Research on my Perry, Andrews, Thomas, John, McMorran, Watson, Falconer and Safier families

Last updated 20 October 2017.  You can e-mail me at:; Marcel Safier, PO Box 239, Holland Park, Queensland, 4121, Australia