Marcel Safier - Photographic Historian and Collector of Photographica - 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, then a cheap plastic viewfinder camera before moving up to SLR cameras, firstly my mother's Minolta SR2, then a Minolta SRT101B and finally I switched to the Canon SLR system when I was offered an AE-1 with array of lenses. I have continued to use mainly Canon cameras ever since. At 15 my interest in early photography was stimulated by a gift of early family portraits and two old folding cameras from a relative, but it was a 19th century photo of Scottish ancestors that most drew my attention. A year later I acquired some old photos from an antique shop and I have collected them along with old cameras ever since. In parallel to these interests I have avidly researched my Scottish, English, Welsh, Irish and Polish ancestry (see link below).

In 1984 I graduated in Medicine from the University of Queensland and in 1989 started working as a General Practitioner on Brisbane’s south side. 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 many hundreds of descendants and relations of photographers as well as many other photographic historians, collectors and collection curators around the world.

Friendships with fellow collectors and researchers Sandy Barrie in Queensland, Warwick Reeder in Melbourne, Robert (Bob) Noye of South Australia (now deceased), Ron Cosens (Britain’s major carte de visite collector - his collection contains over 200 000 images!), Francois Boisjoly in Lyon (who has the largest collection of French cartes de visite) and super-collector Matt Isenburg from Connecticut has greatly increased my enthusiasm and knowledge. My collection has grown to over 35,000 photographs and 5000 postcards and is particularly strong in Australian carte de visite images, my first passion amongst my extensive collection that also includes many British glass plate cameras. I collect most things to do with glass plate photography.

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".

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 information and assistance to authors for books on photographic history in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, India, China and the USA. I have attended an array of photographic trade fairs, symposiums and conventions in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, USA and France and look forward to attending many more.

I am also an avid photographer. I particular enjoy concert photography.

Currently researching:

- all 19th century and early 20th century Australian photographers
- history of the carte de visite and cabinet photograph in Australia
- definitive biographical database of Australia's daguerreotype photographers.
- Henry Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Bayliss (there was an exhibition of the Holtermann collection of negatives "The Greatest Wonder of the World"
in 2013 at the State Library of New South Wales) for a future publication on the Holtermann collection.
- postcards of Southport, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Miami, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Coolangatta, Tweed Heads (i.e. the Gold Coast region), Queensland, Australia
- World War 1 studio photography


Daguerreian Society
Photographic Historical Society of Canada
Cameraholics (Photographic Collectors Club of Queensland) - Webmaster and former President
Australian Photographic Collector’s Society
Photographic Preservation Society of South Australia Inc.

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


   Canon G15 and Canon 7D - my current favourite shooting cameras and my newest addition:

   The Olympus Stylus 1

Click here to see my family history


Click here to go to my home page

Last updated 2 May 2016. You can e-mail me at: