Brake’s interest in photographing mountain landscapes began in his teenage years when he lived at Arthur’s Pass in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
In fact, writer Maurice Shadbolt (his collaborator on the 1963 book New Zealand, gift of the sea, as well as the 1988 Readers Digest Guide to New Zealand) complained that he was always having to drag Brake away from shots of mountains.
Not surprisingly, in 1955, when Austrian photographer Ernst Haas looked at the photographs Brake had taken of New Zealand in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he said, ‘Very nice, but where are all the people?’.
Certainly the dominant impression conveyed by New Zealand, gift of the sea is of wild, empty landscapes, although photographs of people and cities also feature. Given Brake’s early background, it is perhaps not surprising that he saw New Zealand in terms of landscapes.
But he also had a career-long tendency towards spectacle – whether the grand mountainscape, a parade in China’s Tiananmen Square, or the epic story of the monsoon.
Story: 'New Zealand, gift of the sea', 1963
Story: 'New Zealand: gift of the sea', 1962
Milford Sound, Fiordland. Taken... 1960
Cape Reinga. Taken for 'New... 1960
Sheep mustering, Mount... 1960
Skiers below Hochstetter Dome... 1960
Milford Sound, Fiordland, 1984
Mount Green, Mount Cook... 1952-53
Sunset at Wairakei geothermal... 1978
Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount... 1960
Fiordland, circa 1987
Burning forest, Taupo, 1981
Marlborough Sounds, circa 1987
Lake Pukaki, Canterbury, 1988
Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka, 1978
Mount Egmont/Taranaki from... 1978
Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont), 1960
Sheep farm, Otago, circa 1978
Lake Hayes, Otago, 1960-1980s
Waikato River, 1980s
Milford Sound, Fiordland, 1960
Thermal area, Rotorua, 1960
Tasman Glacier, 1960-1980s
Southern Alps, Otago, 1980s
Mount Tongariro, circa 1986
Aoraki/Mount Cook, 1960-1980s