Ralph Snowball was born in England in 1849, and emigrated to Australia in 1879 accompanied by his wife and son. The family came to Newcastle in 1880 living at Clarence Road, Lambton. By 1885, he exchanged his life as miner for that of a photographer.
During the next two decades he recorded thousands of images of Newcastle – people, places and events – the essence of daily life and regional identity. More than 8000 glass negatives were stored untouched in his Lambton house from his death in 1925 until the late 1980’s when they were discovered.
Many of his ‘ordinary’ photographs could have had little commercial return for him at the time, although today they have a priceless value to the history of Australia.