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. I next acquired a cheap plastic viewfinder camera before moving up to my mother's Minolta SR2, then a Minolta SRT101B and finally I switched to the Canon system which I have mostly used since. At 15 my interest in early photography was stimulated by a gift of early family photographs and two old folding cameras from a relative, but it was a Scottish cabinet photo from the 1890s 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 later started working as a General Practitioner on Brisbane’s south side which I have done for the past 26+ 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 in Melbourne, Robert (Bob) Noye of South Australia (now deceased), Dennis O'Hoy in Bendigo, Ron Cosens (Britain’s major carte de visite collector - his collection contains over 200 000 images!), John Hannavy and Hugh Rayner all in the UK and Francois Boisjoly in Lyon (who has the largest collection of French cartes de visite) and super-collector Matt Isenburg from Connecticut have greatly increased my enthusiasm and knowledge. My collection has grown to over 35,000 photographs and 7000 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 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".

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 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.

Currently researching:

- Photographers of Brisbane 1850-1950 for a publication to co-incide with a March 2017 exhibition based on my collection at the Museum of Brisbane
- all 19th 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 will be an exhibition of the Holtermann collection of negatives "The Greatest Wonder of the World"
23 February 2013 – 12 May 2013 at the State Library of New South Wales)
- postcards of Southport, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Miami, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Coolangatta, Tweed Heads, i.e the Gold Coast region of Queensland, Australia
- World War 1 studio photography


Daguerreian Society
Photographic Historical Society of Canada
Cameraholics (Photographic Collectors Club of Queensland) - President and 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

My current favourite shooting cameras:
   Canon G15 and Canon 7D

   The Olympus Stylus 1

Click here to see my family history


Click here to go to my home page

Last updated 24 May 2016.  You can e-mail me at: