In a time before smartphones and selfies, people visited a studio portrait photographer to capture an image of themselves they wanted to share with the world.

Museum of Brisbane’s new exhibition, Sit. Pose. Snap. Brisbane Portrait Photography 1850 – 1950 explores the first 100 years of portrait photography in Brisbane from 1850 to 1950.

The exhibition, which will run from Friday 24 March to Sunday 30 July, will reflect how photography has been used to present images of ourselves that portray who we are — and how we want to be perceived.

Sit. Pose. Snap. draws on one of Australia’s most extensive collections of portrait photography, amassed and researched by Brisbane GP Marcel Safier. From special occasions to family portraits, the photographs hint at the personality and stories of the subjects, even though many of their identities are unknown.

Sit Pose Snap

Woven into the exhibition is an examination of photographic techniques and technologies, the popularisation of photography, and the ever-increasing control that subjects have over their portrayal.

Significant Brisbane photographic houses of the period will be featured, as visitors will have the chance to experience what it felt like to visit Mathewson & Co, one of the leading studios of the time. You’ll be able to take a selfie in this recreated 19th century studio space!

Sit Pose Snap

Sit. Pose. Snap. Brisbane Portrait Photography from 1850 – 1950 will be on display at the Museum of Brisbane (Brisbane City Hall, 64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane City) from Friday 24 March to Sunday 30 July. Entry is free and no bookings are required.