With the advent of simple photography came plenty of opportunities for photographers at Milford Sound. While many modern day amateur and professional photographers can capture images of the area in an instant, these artists had to work hard to secure the right lighting, while taking a chance on images that were not digital. Thousands of images have been taken of the area since, but with the following photographers came some true works of art, long before the days of heavy editing and digital imagery existed.
Robert Percy Moore
Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Robert Percy Moore became something of a travelling photographer during the First World War. He established his first photography studio in Sydney in 1919, before moving onto owning a separate studio in Wellington between the years of 1923 and 1931. While there, he specialized in using his Cirkut camera to take panoramic images. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, he benefited from being able to travel throughout Australia and New Zealand, taking hundreds of stunning photographs as he did so.
At the pinnacle of his photography career came this image of Milford Sound. Featuring Arthur River and Mitre Peak, it still manages to capture the area in all its glory, despite being in black and white. All of the mysticism surrounding Milford Sound is encapsulated in one image, which you can enjoy reprints of today.
The Burton Brothers as Photographers at Milford Sound
Known for being one of New Zealand’s most important photographic studios, the Burton Brothers took lots of images during their time at Milford Sound. In addition to capturing iconic images of the Maori population, Alfred Burton took several photos of Milford Sound. This included the iconic image of the sound with huts in the foreground, depicting an era when individuals lived there rather than just visiting.
William P Hart
As another famous 19th-century photographer who managed to capture images of everyday life at Milford Sound, William P Hart is responsible for helping the world see how people lived there prior to modern day conservation efforts. In addition to snapping rickety huts and boats, he grabbed images of unidentified groups exploring its shores, as well as pictures of people hiking there. Being able to see the first ‘tourists’ visiting the sound is like looking at today’s visitors through a different lens.
Unknown Photographers who Captured Images of Milford Sound
Unfortunately, not every photographer gets to produce an amazing image and have his or her name live by it forever. Over the years, plenty of unknown photographers have taken pictures of Milford Sound. Somehow their work seems all-the-more spectacular in the pre-digital age, including these images of men outside a hut there and a canoe at Lake Ada. Although they depict man’s activity at the Sound, it’s nature’s beauty that continues to shine through. There is something rustic and rugged about it, especially for those who go to visit it today in all its multicoloured glory.
If you have the chance to visit Milford Sound today, you may be able to recreate some of these images for yourself. While you won’t be able to snap colonial travellers and rickety huts, you can point your camera at Mitre Peak and the many surrounding glaciers. Like the photographers of the 19th century, you’ll have a chance to witness Milford Sound in all its natural glory. Some of the photographs below are over 100 years old and others, much more recent. Can you tell which is which?