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Who was Brian Brake?
He’s been described as the best known New Zealand photographer of his generation. He joined the famous Paris-based picture agency Magnum in the mid-1950s and became an international photojournalist.
His most remembered work is his photo story on the monsoon in India. This was published in Life and many other major picture magazines in 1961.
Brake also produced a book on New Zealand’s landscape and people, New Zealand, gift of the sea, that remained a best-seller throughout the 1960s. In the 1970s and 80s, he became known for his images of craft art and taonga Maori.
How famous was he?
He was very well known in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s, when he had returned to live in this country and most of his major achievements were behind him. If you asked New Zealanders to name a well-known photographer during this time, the most likely answer would have been Brian Brake.
Was he famous overseas as well as in New Zealand?
The ‘Monsoon’ photo essay published in 1961 certainly made Brake a big name in the picture magazine world, as it featured in at least 12 magazines. It was also shown in 1965 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in an exhibition about photo essays.
Brake was included in such standard reference books as Michèle and Michel Auer’s Photographers encyclopaedia: 1839 to the present (1985) and Contemporary photographers, edited by Colin Naylor (1988).
Continue reading - Brake's best-known photographs