What 190 years of Sydney in photos looks like

How do you capture 113 years of photography, an archive of more than 10 million negatives and a digital archive of over 5 million photos in a 160-page book? It’s a challenge.

As part of The Sydney Morning Herald’s 190th birthday celebrations this year, we wanted to put together a photographic book that acknowledges this extraordinary accomplishment and share some of the timeless images that have been created by the Herald photographers through the years.

Swimmers watch as a diver launches himself from the diving tower at North Sydney Olympic Pool in January 1946.

Swimmers watch as a diver launches himself from the diving tower at North Sydney Olympic Pool in January 1946.Credit:Victor Johnston

Thanks to the support and expertise of the Herald’s library team, Harry Hollinsworth in particular, and the patience of designer Georgia Willis, the last few months of research, curation and editing have been a privilege. The result is a visual feast; photography that can reconnect us with our city and to a way of life that we aspire to live as a multicultural and progressive community.

As a Filipino, raised in London and a Sydneysider for the last 18 years, there is often a sense of curiosity about my heritage and this perhaps shows a desire to also question this city’s identity and direction.

It is a city of diasporas; our individual connection with Sydney is shaped by our experiences and regardless of where you are born, your stories contribute to forming the connective tissues that make Sydney unique.

The Epiphany Festival at Yarra Bay where young men of Greek Orthodox faith dive for a cross that is blessed and thrown into the bay by an Orthodox priest.

The Epiphany Festival at Yarra Bay where young men of Greek Orthodox faith dive for a cross that is blessed and thrown into the bay by an Orthodox priest. Credit:Dean Sewell

The decision to print in black and white was based on its timeless quality; it has a way of cutting out the noise and distilling narrative distinctively.

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I hope that after the events of the last two years, this book provides you with some visual respite. Sydney Lives is available for pre-order here.


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