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Mervyn was born in Breewarrina, regional NSW in 1945. He started his photography career as a cadet with The Sydney Morning Herald, where he worked for 17 years, becoming Australia’s first press photographer. His photography is an incredibly important historical contribution has on First Nations experiences.

Sydney Elders - Mervyn Bishop

Renowned Aboriginal photographer Mervyn Bishop.

Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

Mervyn’s photography is focused on news and documentary. He was invited to take these portraits in recognition of the importance of acknowledging our local Indigenous Elders and the contribution they have made to the fight for Indigenous rights and our place in the story and history of this country.

Mervyn’s photographs have documented important moments in Australian history, including the idealistic era when land rights, equal wages and government aid seemed to signal a new dawn for Aboriginal people. One of his most iconic images is of Gough Whitlam pouring sand into Vincent Lingiaris hands, signalling the first repatriation of Country to Aboriginal people. Mervyn’s awards include the Nikon-Walkley Australian Press Photographer of the Year for 1971 and the Australia Council's Red Ochre Award in 2000.

Learn more about Mervyn Bishop in Brewarrina Boy by Djon Mundine.