Women sit around a table in a sepia toned old photograph

The Staged Photograph

From costume portraits to comic and sentimental stereographs
This exhibition presents staged photographs taken between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, illuminating the popular culture of the time.

These photographs were created in the photographic studio, with its painted backgrounds and props, where people came to have fancy dress or special outfits captured. Studio photographers also created tableaux, using posed models to stage scenes to tell stories, sentimental or comic. The most popular format was the stereograph.  Even the home backyard became a stage for family portraits, posed in the manner of the studio.

Featuring enlarged reproductions, and original examples of glass negatives and stereographs from the historic photograph collection, The Staged Photograph is a fascinating delve into an unfamiliar photographic history.

Header image: Mark Anthony (attributed), [Staged parlour scene], England circa 1855-65, half stereograph, donated by Alison Skeels, 1982, Macleay Collections, HP82.56.154

Level 1, Historic Photography Gallery

Now open