Aerial view of Australian desert with river

Life Through the Lens

Life Through the Lens Photo display at NFSA Canberra

Photographic display in Canberra

WARNING: this article may contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Film Australia was one of the nation’s leading producers of television documentaries and educational programs.

Our Life Through the Lens photographic showcase, now on display in the Liversidge Space at the NFSA in Canberra, features images from the Film Australia Collection taken during the production of these documentaries.

Capturing life as it was lived

From 1913-2008 Film Australia served as a training ground for some of the biggest names in Australia’s film industry. Fred Schepisi, Phillip Noyce, Peter Weir, Dean Semler, Anthony Buckley, Jan Sharp, Gillian Armstrong, Tim Burstall and many others developed their early careers at Film Australia.

Through the lens of these documentary filmmakers Film Australia captured life in Australia as it was lived. The films record Australians at work, producing music and art, and exploring and cultivating the land. They document changing social and political climates including our relationships with close neighbours like Papua New Guinea, as well as our evolving and maturing understanding of First Australians and their cultures.

Life in Australia has changed significantly over the last century. The collection of over 3,000 productions not only documents daily life but also traces changes in the broader Australian experience.

You can see examples in the photo gallery below:

View more

You can also view the full collection 100 Years, 100 Images in our Flickr album.

Did you know the Film Australia Collection is available as a resource for research and film production? Explore the catalogue at

Life Through the Lens is currently on display at our Liversidge Space at the NFSA building in Canberra.

Main image: The Edge of the World (1997). Film Australia Collection © NFSA, NFSA title: 337530. Aerial view of river and mudflats. Photographer: Don Featherstone.