Marcel Safier

Marcel SafierMarcel Safier was born in Southport, Queensland on Australia’s Gold Coast and he developed an early interest in photography through using his mother’s Kodak Bob Brownie, although he quickly progressed to a Minolta SR2 SLR camera and then to the Canon system. At 15 his interest in old photographs was stimulated by delving through his mother’s old photographs, then receiving a gift of his old Scottish family’s photographs from a relative. It was a cabinet photo amongst those that most drew his attention. A year later he acquired some old photos from an antique shop and he has collected them ever since. Parallel to this he has avidly researched his Scottish and English ancestry.

In 1984 Marcel graduated in Medicine from the University of Queenslandand now works as a General Practitioner onBrisbane’s south side. In 1992 he purchased a 19th century family photograph album containingBrisbanestudio portraits and he became more curious about local photographers. It turned out the grand children of two of the photographers whose work was in the album were patients of his. Ever since then he has keenly researched the lives ofBrisbanephotographers, using familiar genealogical techniques and creating family trees for many of them. This research eventually extended to photographers from other parts ofQueensland, thenAustralia,New Zealand,Great BritainandIreland,South AfricaandAmericaand contact with many hundreds of descendants and relations of 19th century photographers.

Friendships with fellow collectors and researchers Sandy Barrie, Warwick Reeder and Robert (Bob) Noye (now deceased) greatly increased his enthusiasm and knowledge. Marcel’s collection has grown to over 25,000 photographs and is particularly strong in Australian carte de visite images, his first love amongst his extensive collection that also includes many postcards and glass plate cameras.

Through their mutual interests Marcel began corresponding with Ron Cosens,Britain’s major carte de visite collector inYorkshire which eventually led to a meeting in 2005, and again in 2010 and a continuous exchange of ideas, data and photographs ever since. Along with Sandy Barrie ofIpswich,Australia, Marcel has an ongoing involvement in the database of British and Irish photographers maintained by Ron Cosens.

Marcel has also established contact with many photographic historians and collectors around the world through the internet and attendance at photographic history conferences in Australia, New Zealand, Walesand the USAand photographic collectors fairs in Great Britain, Franceand the USA. A particular ambition has been to establish a network of the leading carte de visite collectors and researchers in as many countries as possible.

Marcel has spoken to historical societies, collector’s groups and photographic conventions on aspects of photographic history, he has created photographic history websites, authored monographs on photographers and camera makers, contributed to the Routledge “Encyclopaedia of 19th Century Photography” and shared information with authors of books and journals on photographic history in many countries including Australia, New Zealand, China, India, France, Great Britain and Canada. He is currently researching for a book on the history of the carte de visite photograph in Australia, preparing a biographical index of Australia’s daguerreotypists, co-authoring a book on Australia’s early Jewish photographers and assisting with a book on the Holterman collection of New South Wales goldfield’s negatives. Marcel is a major contributor to a substantially revised edition of “Australians Behind the Camera” by Sandy Barrie that is still in preparation.

Marcel is President of Cameraholics (Photographic Collectors Club of Queensland) and a member of the Queensland Card Collector’s Society Inc, the Australian Photographic Collector’s Society, the Photographic Collectors Association of New Zealand, the Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain, The Daguerreian Society and The Photographic Historical Society of Canada. He still enjoys taking photographs, especially at music concerts and is a keen convert to the digital medium despite owning many usable film cameras.

Marcel can be contacted by email and is always happy to hear from the descendants of 19th century Australian, New Zealand and Pacific photographers and some of his websites can be accessed via