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Studio portraiture

'Thoughtful rest'
'Thoughtful rest' circa 1946, Brake, Brian (1927–1988), New Zealand. Purchased 2007. Te Papa

Brian Brake's first job after leaving school was as an assistant to Wellington studio portraitist Spencer Digby. It was a good foundation in the craft of photography under a hard taskmaster. When Brake once asked in frustration why they couldn’t use a light meter, Digby replied: ‘You’ve got eyes, boy, use them.’

Out of work hours, Brake used the studio to take photographs like the ones shown here, entering them in photographic society competitions. He favoured a strongly-lit style that re-emerged decades later in his photographs of museum objects.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.