- Also known as
primary name: Martin, Josiah
- individual; academic/intellectual; British; Male
- Life dates
- Various locations on and around Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand
- Josiah Martin, a Freemanson arrived in New Zealand from London in 1867 yet did not immediately focus on the photography that he was to become known for. He instead was a teacher and headmaster till ill health and changes in the education system forced him to retire in 1879.
He toured England and Europe in 1879 and on his return to Auckland his foray into photography initially began by forming a partnership with William H.T. Partington - himself known for his portraits of the Maori people. They opened a photographic business with a studio on the corner of Queen and Grey Streets, employing the new dry-plate process of the time.
This however did not last long and after dissolving the partnership, Martin opened a succession of photographic businesses on and around Queen St, Auckland and a branch studio in Rotorua in c. 1894. He turned his focus to topographic and ethnographic photography for which he gained an international reputation. Martin not only photographed, but also researched the thermal phenomena and environments of the Rotorua region.
Martin was an advocate of documenting the New Zealand landscape before it became irretrievably altered (and as he saw it, damaged) by the progress of development. While he recognized the commercial importance of photography for the tourism market, Martin favoured straightforward images as opposed to the impressionistic and romantic images created by a number of his contemporaries that were popular with audiences. This is reflected in the documentary approach taken in his work.
Martin experimented with both wet and dry plate processes during his career. Always willing to share his knowledge and experiences, Martin was the editor of Sharlands New Zealand Photographer (New Zealand’s first photography serial, which was directed at the professional and amateur) for a number of years as well as frequently giving lectures and key note addresses on the subject, as well as his scientific observations. His most important lecture The Terraces of Rotomahana, New Zealand was given to the Geological Society of London in 1887 and sealed his reputation as both a photographic and scientific observer. He won a gold medal at the Exposition Coloniale in Paris in 1889 for his photography.
Works are held in collections both within New Zealand, and the United Kingdom and the USA. On his death in 1958, his daughters presented his collection of negatives to the Auckland Institute and Museum where they remain today. Many of his portraits of Maori appear in his publication (1890) 'Selected Catalogue of New Zealand Scenery', Auckland: C.H. Murray. In 1894, he offered a selection of 60 New Zealand photographs of ethnological subjects to the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University. The references numbers for those photographs which appear in Martin's 1890 catalogue are cross referenced in the museum's database.
- Auckland Libraries Photographers Database.
Main, W. (1976). Maori In Focus. Wellington: Millwood Press, p68.