See What I Can See: New Zealand Photography for the Young and Curious

See What I Can See: New Zealand Photography for the Young and Curious


Gregory O'Brien

Auckland University Press, Auckland, October 2015

265 x 235 mm, 112 pages, colour illustrations

Hardback, ISBN 978 1 86940 843 5, $34.99

Available from Auckland University Press

An excellent introduction to New Zealand Photography, with a superb selection of images.


Photography was invented in France in 1839 – the year before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in New Zealand. Within a few years, cameras were charting the life and times of people at this end of the planet. See What I Can See is a celebration of that remarkable, well-travelled, ever-changing invention – the camera – the New Zealand that it captured, and the artists who wielded it.

See What I Can See is a book about darkness and light, about careful planning and doing things on the spur of the moment, about the quickness of digital photography and the slowness of old technology. It’s a woman driving a tractor and a kid in a Colgate tube, a rock at Ngauruhoe and a Wahine survivor on a truck, it’s surfies and selfies and cabbages the size of kings. The book also presents a picture of a country – Aotearoa New Zealand – living its life, dreaming its dreams and taking care of its day-to-day business.

See What I Can See is an introduction to New Zealand photography that will appeal to young and curious photographers, students of New Zealand art history, or anyone who wants to sample the extraordinary range of images made in this country by our photographers.

For more photos and further links, go to

Reviewed by Sarah Jane Barnett for The Reader

Reviewed by Hannah McKee for Stuff

Reviewed by David Eggleton for Landfall Review Online