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

Isopogon latifolius Stirling Range October 1956
WA history
Douglas "Dick" Perry helped open the first pine nursery in Gnangara. Dick cultivated the finest seedlings after examining over 250,000 from the Forest of Leiria, Portugal. The State Library collection has hundreds of his exquisite wildflower photos and slides.
Capt and Mrs J S Roe and family
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.
Martin and Julia Walley on their farm near Goomalling with their dogs ca1960
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.
Protesters march along Wellington Street in front of the Perth Rail Station during the 3rd Black Lives Matter rally on 4th July 2020
Photographs of the BLM rallies in Perth in 2020
The Library has a large collection of photographs from the Black Lives Matter rallies which took place in Perth over June and July 2020. 
Scotty Maxx performs with This is Spudgun at the Rosemount Hotel 2019
SLWA on ABC Radio
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.
137033PDAerial ploughed land and dam near Northam c1988
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.
Izzy Orloff and colleague working in the Censors Office
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.
Bogged in the Leonard River on the way back to Derby Derek Green Ian Moore Robin Berry and Bob Deal May 1962
SLWA on ABC Radio
How a flight attendant's colour photos introduced National Geographic to remote WA in the 1960s.
Sam Lovell Derby June 2019
Halls Creek Photos 1950s
Aboriginal stories
Small towns & regional cities
WA history
Sam Lovell OAM, is a stockman, boundary rider, and is regarded as the father of Aboriginal tourism in Western Australia. This collection of photographs shows the communities who lived at the Kimberley Stations during the 1950s.
Masked shoppers in Northbridge during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020
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.
Wellington Dam mural 8 March 2021
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.
Taimac SBS filming an advertisement for Jeans West in the studio 28 May 1987
This online exhibition brings together advertising and promotional photographs from the State Library’s diverse collection of photographs by Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography.
he Manikins 1978-1979
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.
Andrew Lim
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.
The Tattersalls Hotel Semaphore Chambers and other buildings burn down in Hannan Street Kalgoorlie 30 January 1899
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.
6909B97 Alfred Hawes Stone 1868
Alfred Hawes Stone lived from 1801 to 1873. The photographs in this collection are our oldest.
Fred Merton owner of Mertons Reward with gold from the mine
Who was Roy (William Roy) Millar?
Roy Millar took some great photographs of life in the eastern goldfields of Western Australia in the 1890s and early 1900s.
 Search Catalogue   Water skiing on Lake Gnangara 23 October 1966
Grace Roper documented the 'everyday' in Western Australia in the 1960s.
 Charles Walker photographs himself with a group kneeling at far right with camera cord in his hand ca1905
Charles Walker lived around the turn of the century. He photographed many aspects of life in Western Australia.
Dondon Malith outside St Anselm of Canterbury Anglican Church Kingsley 30 September 2012
A focus on the experience of African migrants to Western Australia.
Greg Woodward surfer and photographer Bells Beach WA 1970
Greg Woodward - a photographer known for his surf and urban landscape photography.

Order copies or gifts

Workroom JS Battye Library of West Australian History and State Archives 1969
Copies of items can be ordered from the State Library collections for personal use, research, or display and publication.
Atlantis Marine Park throw pillow on RedBubble
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