Alfred John Tattersall

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Alfred James Tattersall (1866 – 1951) was a New Zealand photographer[1] who lived in Samoa for most of his life and contributed a significant collection of images of the Pacific Island country and its peoples during the colonial era.[2] Tattersall moved to Samoa in 1886 to work as an assistant in the studio of J. Davis. When Davis died in 1893 Tattersall over his studio and negative collection.[3] He went on to live in Samoa from 1886 to 1951, including the volatile era when Britain, Germany and the United States were vying for control of the Samoa Islands. Many of his photographs are significant in the history of Samoa and covered eras such as German Samoa (1900 - 1914) followed by the country's administration under New Zealand which saw the rise of the pro-independence Mau movement.

Tattersall went to Samoa in 1886 to be an assistant in the photography studio of British photographer, John Davis. This was the era of colonial photography in the South Pacific when the tropical landscapes and indigenous people provided 'continual fascination' for foreign photographers.[4]

In 1891, another New Zealander, Thomas Andrew joined Davis and Tattersall.[2] In 1903, Tattersall took over the business when Davis died.[5]Postcards were a popular part of his business which distributed the images around the world. Apart from landmark historical events, Tattersall also photographed hundreds of landscape scenery and studio portraits of Samoans posing in traditional attire.



  1. ^ "Works of Art, Photographer and Photo Source". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Maxwell, Anne (2000). Colonial Photography and Exhibitions: Representations of the Native and the Making of European Identities. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 166. ISBN 0-7185-0229-9. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Nordstrom A (1991). "Early Photography in Samoa". History of Photography. 15: 280. 
  4. ^ Webb, Virginia-Lee (July 1996). "Picturing paradise: photographs of Samoan life and culture, 1875-1925". USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education). Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  5. ^ "View of Vaea hill, Samoa, ca.1897". University of Southern California. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 

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