As New Zealand is a land richly endowed with natural beauty and with phenomena of great scientific interest, it was natural that photography should become the hobby of many individuals interested in recording its beauty and its natural history. Some of these persons became members of the Royal Photographic Society of London and attained great distinction internationally in the field of photography. Especial mention should be made of Gerald E. Jones, of Wellington, who became the first New Zealand born photographer to earn the title F.R.P.S., gaining this distinction in 1912. George Chance of Dunedin, elected F.R.P.S. in 1923, shares with Jones the honours for pictorial photography in New Zealand. In 1954 Chance became overseas (New Zealand) corresponding member of the council of the Royal Photographic Society. William C. Davies, appointed photographer to the Cawthron Institute in 1920, paid much attention to photographing New Zealand natural history, particularly plants. He was awarded an A.R.P.S. in 1931, followed in 1932 by F.R.P.S.; later, in 1938, he became the first and only Hon. F.R.P.S. for New Zealand. In 1934 Davies was awarded the R.P.S. Gold Medal for his photographic work in the fields of science. During his years of service to the Cawthron Institute, Davies amassed a collection of many thousands of negatives, a small selection from which is reproduced in his book New Zealand Plants. Davies retired from the Cawthron Institute in 1945 but continued actively in scientific photography until his death in 1952.
Professional portrait photography became accepted in New Zealand very early in its development. The standard of portrait work in this country has always been high and several notable photographers have arisen in this sphere.