Biography: 19th Century photographer Elizabeth Pulman

Biography: 19th Century photographer Elizabeth Pulman


Elizabeth Pulman (1836–1900) was a British-born New Zealand photographer. She was regarded as being the country’s first female professional photographer. She owned a photographic studio in Auckland along with her husband George Pulman.

Elizabeth married John Blackman, a widower and reporter, on 14 June 1875, at the West Tamaki Presbyterian Church. They had one son. Originally from Surrey, England, Blackman was an able writer and poet. He had been acquainted with Charles Dickens and other leading British authors and occasionally gave lectures about them in Auckland. Elizabeth was again widowed when John Blackman died on 11 June 1893.

Elizabeth Blackman died at Auckland on 3 February 1900. For almost 30 years, until the business was sold shortly before her death, she had carried on Pulman’s Photographic Studio. During this successful period Elizabeth was assisted by a son, Frederick, only in later years. She was among New Zealand’s early photographers, and was possibly the first woman professional. She coped with the upbringing of nine children as well as the problems of a period of rapidly changing technology in the medium.

Elizabeth Blackman (known professionally as Pulman) and George Pulman left a legacy of many prints of historical interest, in both portrait and scenic subjects. Surviving photographs are held mainly in museums and public library collections. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to distinguish those photographs actually taken by Elizabeth because they usually went under the studio name; there are also some unattributed pirated copies. A scenic collection was sold to the government to promote tourism in New Zealand. The Maori portraits are of interest to historians and genealogists and display moko details of many important chiefs of the North Island.

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman

Photo by Elizabeth Pulman


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