"Without my photography life would be boring. Photography adds an extra dimension to my life. Somehow it confirms my place in the world."
All images are courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive.
Rennie Ellis is an award winning photographer and writer. I recently came across one of his 17 published books, Australian Graffiti Revisited, co-authored by Ian Turner which was originally published by Sun Books, Melbourne in 1975. Scoring a copy of a 1981 reprint felt like hitting an inspiration gold mine as a massive lover of Rennie Ellis and his photo journalistic approach.
His works often highlight his encounters with other people's "ordinary" lives. "From footy fans at the MCG to sharpies in a local park, Toorak salesgirls to Fitzroy senior citizens, these photos give a taste of the diverse social history Ellis documented during the 1960s, '70s and '80s, particularly of his hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
Over 30 years his quest for recording the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour has taken him to locations all over the world. He was as much at home photographing Carnival in Rio de Janeiro with all its extroverted sexuality as he was recording the backstage preparations of the celebrated Kirov Ballet. At other times, in pursuit of the illusive photo, he had been lost in the souks of Marrakech, rowed up the Ganges at dawn, embraced the dust and flies of cattle stations on the edge of the Simpson Desert and given his minders the slip in Shanghai. He had been welcomed to the White House and thrown out of the Moulin Rouge."
When pushed to make a value judgement on his own photography - is it art, social realism, photojournalism or slice-of-life indulgence? - Ellis replied with a quote from the pioneering American photographer Alfred Stieglitz: "Art or not art, that is immaterial - I continue on my own way, seeking my own truth, ever affirming today."
"Art or not art, that is immaterial - I continue on my own way, seeking my own truth, ever affirming today."