The library's photographic collection was created in 1876 through a subscription to a series of images of Normandy monuments created by the Le Havre photographer Emile Letellier. However, two years later the subscription was discontinued because the acquisitions committee judged that "photographs degrade too rapidly to be admitted into public collections, for which only prints in oil-based inks are acceptable".
Despite this hasty judgement, photographs continued to be added to the library's collection, principally through donations. By way of example, the illustrator Raoul Lefaix donated his photographs of Le Havre's old town in 1928.
Today, the collection boasts many old images of Le Havre taken by both professional and amateurs, such as Jean-Victor Warnod, Firmin Kaiser, Alphonse Davanne, A. Caccia, Emile Wanhout, Jean Jéhan, Marcel Maillard and Charles Potier. There are also the images donated in 1983 by William Beaufils showing the bombing of Le Havre, and the press photographs of the Bernard Esdras-Gosse collection.
The photographic collection of Philippe Manneville, comprising 30,000 images, was added to the library's collections in 2007. The oldest, preserved images date from 1851-1853.
More recently, in 2012, an extremely rare photograph by Gustave Le Gray was acquired. It shows the Musée-Bibliothèque of Le Havre in 1856 or 1857.