This new site and how I got here.

September 14, 2017

 

 

Finally after many years of procrastination and Wix illiteracy I bid you welcome to my new photography web site.

 

My dad (Ron Ratcliffe) was a highly regarded Sydney based advertising photographer and much of my childhood was spent in his studios. He offered me a job as his assistant when I left school and amongst a plethora of other now unessential skills I was taught to load Hasselblad, Mamiya and Horseman film magazines both accurately and at lightning speed. I learned to mix photographic chemistry and I studied the intricacies of using both 10x8 inch and 5x4 inch view cameras and even learned to cut meter-wide photographic paper rolls in the dark with a scalpel...usually not cutting myself.

 

Sweeping floors, rising before dawn and getting things right the first time were just some of the essential skills taught to me that remain essential to me to this day. 

 

And my dad never went light on me because I was his son. My pay remained the same if I worked a 40 hour or an 80 hour week and I had to remain on my feet for the duration of a shoot. I was not allowed to sit down. 

 

But (mercifully) times change...

 

By the early 2000's film was on it's way out and was rapidly being replaced by digital imaging. The shift to digital was profound, changing not only the way photographs were recorded but altering the processes of an entire industry. Photographs could be purchased over a copper cable. Results were instantaneous, even faster than the "instant" Polaroid. Computers replaced dark-rooms, scanners became superfluous and images were stored not on acetate and paper but on HD's, CD's and DVD's. 

 

Though initially almost prohibitively expensive, digital cameras gradually became less expensive and more and more people called themselves photographers. With the cost and complexities of film removed from the equation far more experimentation could be afforded by the layman, the hobbyist and the student. Universities, TAFF and private Colleges offered many more photography courses and the days of learning on the job seemed to cease. Chemistry breathed its last and the hands-on skills that I had learned over many years became effectively redundant. The dark room was replaced by a light room (where I could leave the door open) and even though physical retouching had been around for a while "fixing it in post" retouching was born.

 

 

Initially the unstoppable shift to digital imaging terrified me. It was a brand new world where I knew nothing would ever be quite the same. Though the closest I'd ever been to controlling a computer was making a withdrawal from an ATM and my cell phone was still just a phone, it quickly became apparent to me that the digital world was not all that terrifying and when I finally managed to slash my way through all the boffin jargon and virtual misinformation the digital thing wasn't all that difficult at all. 

 

What has been difficult to deal with, and in a very business sense, is the sheer weight of numbers of people who can now enter the industry calling themselves photographic professionals. It is a far more competitive profession than it has ever been...and it's always been competitive. What kept most "hopeful photographers" out of photography was the sheer astronomical cost of equipment and the years of training and experimentation, even tragedies (with little pay) necessary to compete at the highest level. That said; buying a set of excellent golf clubs does not an Arnold Palmer make but then again there is no license to be a photographer nor should there ever be.  

 

Though many photographers including myself may miss the physical side of chemical photography digital has given the photographer unprecedented creative ability. In particular low light level capabilities are now astounding and though "educated" lighting will never be a thing of the past, shooting with available or ambient light is now a distinct possibility on far more occasions. Equipment is now far cheaper (believe me!) than it ever was and my $4500 monthly film purchasing bill is a thing of the past...I just have to buy cameras more frequently!

 

But nature is a powerful and unforgiving force.

 

My Brisbane studio was flooded in 2011 causing the loss of much of my archived work. Many of my older negatives, prints and Ektachromes were soaked and thus destroyed though some work stored in my home remained undamaged and my archival hard drives were not damaged at all. So most of the work on this site is from my "digital" years, my earlier film work is quite limited.

 

There are shots I have taken over my five decade career that I would dearly love to include here but unfortunately they are either lost to the fury of mother nature or the film (transparency film has no negative) was sent to the client never to be seen again.

 

As explained I did manage to save a couple of pieces of my old work. Below are two shots I took in my teens and are amongst the first photographs I ever took, processed and printed.

 

Hopefully you'll enjoy my web-site. There's a lot to look at. Remember to roll over the portfolio link as not only is there a huge folio there but there are links to sub-galleries. I'll be updating frequently...and writing a blog as often as time permits. So keep coming back...and if your chasing a photographer who knows his stuff please get in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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