Around one million images make up the Pictorial Collection. It attempts to cover all aspects of the State’s history and consists of photographs, postcards, slides, albums, glass negatives, illustrations and art works. Subjects include portraits of people from all walks of life, social gatherings, dances, sporting events, business activities, rural and mining industries and transport.

We also collect representative works of Western Australian photographers and the various processes they used, together with items relevant to the history of photography.

Access to the collection

Photographs are increasingly being digitised and some 70,000 images are now available on-line through the State Library catalogue .

The majority of the collection can still only be accessed via a card catalogue indexed by locality, subject, personal or other names. The level of indexing varies and depends on how much is known about each photograph. To protect the original photographs, a large proportion of the collection has been photocopied and bound into a series of volumes for viewing. Other items are only available in albums, as transparencies or on video and are available on request. Due to their fragility, negatives and some originals are not available for public viewing.

Pictorial collection highlights

While the pictorial collection holds many collections of photographs the following have been highlighted as "gems" of the collection. Other collections or individual photographs are increasingly being digitised and can be found in the State Library Catalogue. The bulk of the collection can be accessed through a card catalogue, indexed by locality, name of person or subject. The level of indexing varies depending on how much is known about each photograph. To protect the original photographs, a large proportion of the collection has been photocopied and bound into a series of volumes for viewing.

Photograph Highlights

Black and white music photography
Relive Perth's rock'n'roll scene of the 1970's and 80's with the photography of Robert Baxter.
Contemporary portraits of community members with Chinese heritage
Brett Canét-Gibson is an Australian photographer and creative director who has produced numerous photo and editorial essays for both national and international publications.
Our collection of J.J. Dwyer's photographs is a treasure - a treasure we encourage you to explore. Here is just a taster of his images.
SLWA on ABC Radio
How a flight attendant's colour photos introduced National Geographic to remote WA in the 1960s.
Alfred Hawes Stone lived from 1801 to 1873. The photographs in this collection are our oldest.
Who was Roy (William Roy) Millar?
Roy Millar too some great photographs of life in the eastern goldfields of Western Australia in the 1890s and early 1900s.

E.L. Mitchell

Statewide photos places, people and events 1890-1929.

An in-depth look at his photography
WA history
Izzy was one of WA’s most significant photographers, an Avant-Garde innovator in photographic style who captured moments of urban life. Born in Ukraine in 1891, he migrated to Fremantle in 1910.
Mavis Phillips (nee Walley) is one of Australia’s earliest known Indigenous photographers. Through her box brownie camera she captured the everyday moments of her family and community in Goomalling, WA from the 1930s.
Grace Roper documented the 'everyday' in Western Australia in the 1960s.
Charles Walker lived around the turn of the century. He photographed many aspects of life in Western Australia.
A focus on the experience of African migrants to Western Australia.
Aerial landscape photography
SLWA on ABC Radio
Richard Woldendorp AM (1927-2023) was a renowned Australian photographer known for his shots of Australian landscapes that have a painterly quality to them.
Greg Woodward - a photographer known for his surf and urban landscape photography.
This online exhibition brings together advertising and promotional photographs from the State Library’s diverse collection of photographs by Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography.
WA history
The State Library's collection of WA COVID-19 images continues to grow, thanks to you. See highlights and find out how to donate.
SLWA on ABC Radio
WA history
Join Dr Kate with Professor Jane Lydon, the Wesfarmers Chair in Australian History at UWA, discussing some of the oldest and most precious treasures held within the State Library collections – daguerreotypes, an early form of photography.
The Wellington Dam Mural was painted by Guido Van Helten. Here you will find a selection of photographs documenting the creation of the mural to completion. The photographer is Vance Lee Thompson.
Adam Trainer spoke with Christine Layton about the Library’s existing music photography collections, the process of adding to it and the exciting images included as part of this display.

Order copies or gifts

Copies of items can be ordered from the State Library collections for personal use, research, or display and publication.
Treasured pictures from the State Library collection are now available to purchase as unique gifts from Redbubble including notebooks, laptop covers, phone cases, scarves, clothing, mugs and so much more.

How to search for a picture on the catalogue

This page last updated on 30 January 2023