A man on the left staring at the camera sitting outside with an outdoor tap to his right. He wears a hat, a suit jacket and a white dress shirt

Viewfinder: Photography from the 1970s to Now opens at the National Library

Viewfinder: Photography from the 1970s to Now takes a unique look at the journey of Australian documentary photography, from black and white images to the vibrant high definition images of today.

The 125 images in this exhibition reveal a changing Australia. The lives of migrants, shearers, dancers, miners, gardeners, surfers and knitters are all uniquely captured by celebrated documentary photographers. The exhibition also includes winged angels at Mardi Gras, significant moments in the journey towards reconciliation and COVID protests.

Director-General of the National Library of Australia Dr Marie Louise Ayres FAHA said the exhibition was striking in depicting the lives of different communities.

‘This exhibition is all about our communities. It captures significant moments of individuals and groups but also reveals the huge amount of change our society has undergone in the last 50 years. The National Library collects today what will be important tomorrow and this exhibition is a brilliant way for us to showcase the changing lives of all Australians.’

The exhibition includes works by  dozens of photographers and the exhibition curator Matthew Jones looked at tens of thousands of images in the National Library’s collection when preparing the exhibition and accompanying book.

‘There are many everyday moments that can be captured with a camera but may not be significant enough to be accessioned into the collections of other libraries or galleries. The beauty of the Library’s collections are that they are so wide-ranging, and I hope visitors enjoy viewing these more ephemeral moments.’

‘I started working on this exhibition during lockdown and used Trove to research images. Preparing an exhibition in this way made me reflect on how the digital revolution has vastly increased our ability to visually document and see our world.’

Viewfinder: Photography from the 1970s to Now is exclusive to Canberra and opens at the National Library of Australia on Friday 16 September, running until Monday 13 March 2023. Entry is free.


Images for media use are available for download via Dropbox.


Georgia McDonald, Media Liaison, National Library of Australia

M: 0401 226 697

E: media@nla.gov.au