Australian Traveller features living photographic legend Richard Woldendorp.


Richard Woldendorp is officially regarded as a State Living Treasure. How many photographers can say that? AT looks at the lifetime body of work of a truly special visual artist.  

It’s been said that the striking images produced by legendary photographer Richard Woldendorp resemble paintings, too-perfect brushstrokes from the hand of a master. There’s a reason. Born in the Netherlands in 1927, Richard displayed a keen desire to paint and draw from an early age and went on to become a student of art, eventually migrating to Australia in 1951. It wasn’t until 1955 at the age of 28 that he bought his first camera, on a holiday back to Holland. A handful of years later he won his first national photographic prize and dedicated the remainder of his life to exploring the Australian landscape as a professional photographer – largely from the air, which Richard feels captures the vastness of the outback best.

“When I fly I keep an open mind to the possibilities,” he says. “You have to see a flight as a flight of discovery. I never know beforehand what I’ll see. There’s always an element of surprise. And I find that the beauty with flying over Australia is that there’s still so much natural landscape, where one can see the evidence of millions of years of evolution which has shaped this, the flattest continent.”

Richard is an Honorary Life Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and in 2002 was inducted into the ACMP Hall of Fame. In 2004 he was further honoured in WA as a State Living Treasure. Now, at 81 years of age, Richard’s work is in the collection of the Australian National Gallery and the National Library in Canberra, as well as at several state galleries. He’s also touring again, with his exhibition Abstract Earth: The Photography of Richard Woldendorp appearing at the SH Ervin Gallery in Sydney from June 20 to August 3, 2008.

More info on Richard’s exhibition images are at www.richardwoldendorp.com/exhibition – and to win copies of his latest two outstanding photography books from Fremantle Press, Australia’s West and Down To Earth with Tim Winton, click here.

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