The National Archives of Norway holds large quantities of photographs. The Regional State Archive in Stavanger has more than three million photos. The number of images held by the National Archives in Oslo is approximately one million. The other regional state archives also keep some photographic material. The photos are part of the archives left by public authorities, private enterprises, associations and individuals. Typically, the original items are available to the public in our reading rooms.

The photos are kept together with the paper documents with which they are associated, or they may be stored separately in dedicated storage areas. This applies to negatives as well as paper copies and slides. The oldest photographs date back to approximately 1860, but most are from the 1900s. The majority is in black-and-white, and with few exceptions, all colour pictures are from the second half of the 1900s. Postcards made from photographs are archived as photographs.

Paper copies have been made from negatives in varying numbers and sizes as needed. Thus, the same photograph may exist in several copies stored in various archives.

As a general rule, photos are neither itemised nor organised according to topography or subject, as they usually belong to an archive. Hence, you must start your search in the archive catalogues. First, you must identify the authority, enterprise, society or individual that dealt with the subject you are seeking.
However, not all photographs are placed in the archives. There have been previous occasions where photographs belonging to government archives were not handed over to the National Archives of Norway, but rather donated to museums and other institutions.

The pictures are taken by amateur and professional photographers alike. The photographer's name is frequently unknown. Most of the amateur photographs are found in archives created by individuals and societies. The State Archive in Stavanger has some 20 photo archives. Besides these, there are only a few photo archives within the National Archives of Norway.