Lake Macquarie History

Shared Stories: Working in your passion

Working in your passion - Ralph Snowball

My work keeps me from home from 8am to 7pm and sometimes later…
Ralph Snowball

Letter to the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate
23 February 1888

Ralph Snowball received his last pay as a miner in 1883. He was in his 40s. He began a new career as a commercial photographer in 1885. Snowball established a studio in his home in Clarence Road New Lambton where he created portraits and visiting cards.

He also travelled widely around the Hunter region by horse and wagon. Early photography involved bulky equipment that was difficult to transport over Lake Macquarie’s poor roads.

This physically hard and time consuming work required real passion.

His body of work was nearly lost. The glass plate negatives that Snowball created were still under his house in New Lambton in the 1980s. They were slated to go to the tip.

They were retrieved, sorted and cleaned by passionate local historians Norm Barney and Bert Lovett. Many of the photographs were donated to the University of Newcastle where other passionate professionals continue to work on and care for these images.

The Lake Macquarie City Council Local Studies collection contains digital versions of Snowball photographs of the region.

Acknowledgement of Country

We remember and respect the Ancestors who cared for and nurtured this Country. It is in their footsteps that we travel these lands and waters. Lake Macquarie City Council acknowledges the Awabakal people and Elders past, present and future.

Council acknowledges traditional custodians throughout Australia. We commit to listening deeply to and collaborating with First Peoples in our work.

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