With fifty years of professional photography experience, Richard has been widely recognised for his technical photographic and printing skills. Amongst many other achievements, he has photographs in several Australian art gallery collections and has been awarded an honorary doctorate.
Here is a short autobiography from Richard.
“I was born in 1936, and I have fond memories of life as a child in a small country town in western Victoria, Australia, which knew hot dry summers and chilly winters. My younger brother, John, and I, and our dogs roamed the countryside with its rolling hills and dams. Our father, Walter, was a bank officer. He served in the Second World War and my mother supported the day to day running of the home. We had a good education in the tiny three-teacher school and both parents instilled a love of classical music, art and reading.
“Our father, Walter, was a keen photographer and on our move to Melbourne this extended to a life-time of ballet photography. I received a scholarship to attend Melbourne Grammar School and I entered the University of Melbourne to complete a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1960.
“My initial interest in photography began during this time as an architectural student. I visited significant buildings and borrowed my father’s camera to aid my memory. Sketching is the best way to memorise as you have to examine everything is detail but photography is quicker and less confronting - and you can examine detail at leisure if you have pointed the lens in the right direction.
“To expand my professional architecture career, I moved to Queensland where I was employed by the University of Queensland working with James Birrell. I married Marguerite in 1966 and shortly after began my photographic practice, working to document buildings old and new.
“I was keen to capture the sometimes ephemeral beauty of Queensland’s heritage. Time and progress keep moving and I soon discovered with some of my favourite structures that all that remained were my photos, so I was prompted to adopt a medium that recorded as much as possible i.e. large format sheet film where you can control perspective and count every brick. My aim became to examine my subjects dispassionately, to identify their characteristics, record them faithfully and present them to people and allow them to make up their own minds.
At first my subjects were quite obvious but secondary things caught my attention. Non-mainstream things such as personal follies, what a man I admired called the ratty things, the challenges and the valiant failures. Then there were the workplaces and technology that make our standard of living possible (and which the fashionable world chooses to ignore).
“Along with my architectural photography work for architects, I soon received many commissions for contributions to publications in architectural and garden heritage and art history (see Publications for a list of major publications). I also had several major exhibitions, and my work has become part of several major collections (see Exhibitions and collections).
“I understand now that photography is a forensic medium. Photographing the human environment tells much more about people than the clothes they wear. More than they themselves realise. There is no need to have a person in a photograph. In fact they can be a distraction. I occasionally use a figure to indicate scale, but I try to keep it unobtrusive and anonymous.
“Landscape photography has also become more and more part of my collection. I ask myself “ Why do I enjoy landscape photography so much?” I think it is because I see structure and order. Everything is in equilibrium. For every hill there is a dale. A tree is the most perfect structure there is. It is perfectly balanced. It can transfer stresses. Its branches and twigs observe an invisible boundary and it has the unique property of being able to maintain and repair itself.”
Richard is well noted for his photographic expertise and for his significant contribution to establishing architectural and art photographic records. He has documented the majority of exhibitions at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art and in 1984, was made an honorary life member. In 2002, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Queensland in 2003.
Richard continues his passion for photography, and greatly enjoys much time with his well-photographed family.