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Brian Brake Edit Profile


Brian Brake was a photographer from New Zealand, worked as freelance photographer in Europe, Africa and Asia.


Brian Brake was born in 1927 in Wellington, New Zealand. Brake was the adopted son of John Samuel Brake and his wife Jennie Brake (née Chiplin). He was raised initially at Doyleston, before his father moved the family to Arthur's Pass, where his father owned the general store, and Christchurch.


He attended Christchurch Boys' High School.


A freelance photographer since 1953, he has been associated with Rapho Agency since 1966. Brake served as a director of Zodiac Films in Hong Kong from 1970 to 1976, was cameraman-director in the New Zealand National Films Unit, 1949-53. The photographer's films include Snows of Aorangi, Snowline Is Their Boundary, and Ancient Egypt - The Sun &) The River.

Brake's style varies from "classic landscape to photojournalist approach to people and their surroundings." He uses large and small format.

Brake was careful to retain his negatives and transparencies, as well as copyright, wherever possible. His entire collection of photographs is now housed at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The Museum showed his China work in a 1995 exhibition, Brian Brake: China, the 1950s (with an accompanying book of the same title), and in 1998, Monsoon: Brian Brake's images of India. Images from this series were published independently in 2007 as Monsoon.


  • PUBLICATIONS Books: The Sacred Image, 1979; Legend &) Reality, 1977; New Zealand Potters, 1976; Form eP Farbe, 1972; The Sculpture of Thailand, 1972; The House on the Klong, 1968; Peking - A Tale of Three Cities, w/Nigel Cameron, 1965; New Zealand - Gift of the Sea, w/ Maurice Shadbolt, 1963.


  • Other Work

    • From the photo series on Japan for LIFE, this image is titled Offerings To The Unknown Dead, Kyoto.

      (Through this photo series, Brian Brake captured the intim...)

    • This shot, made near the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad, ably puts across Brake’s simplistic approach towards his photography.


He was a member of Magnum Photos from 1955 to 1966. An Associate of RPS since 1947, Brake also belongs to ASMP (since 1956) and is an Honorary Fellow of New Zealand Professional Photographers Association.


  • Other Interests

    He named Karsh and Cartier-Bresson as major influences.


Isabel Brake

Early interest in photography of Brake was inspired by his aunt Isabel Brake, who exhibited with the Christchurch Photographic Society, and several of his older cousins.

Spencer Digby

Brake trained with Wellington portrait photographer Spencer Digby from 1945.

Ernst Haas

In 1955 Brake met Ernst Haas and Henri Cartier-Bresson, members of the photo agency Magnum Photos. This led to his acceptance as a nominee member in the same year, and full membership in 1957.