Rick Stevens

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Rick Stevens
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Gough Whitlam at the Blacktown Civic Centre (Click on image to enlarge.)
Where have you worked and over what time period?
  • Apprentice wall and floor tiler working with my father, 1959-1961
  • Copy boy at John Fairfax and Sons, 1961-1963
  • Photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald, 1963-1988
  • Freelance photographer, 1988-1990
  • Photographer with Sydney Morning Herald, 1990-2004
  • Self-employed freelance photographer, 2004-

How did you get into press photography - what was your big break?

In 1961 my parents were arranging to head off to the UK to settle and I had no wish to leave Sydney. I gave up being an apprentice wall and floor tiler and got a job as a copy boy in the Fairfax building in Jones St, Ultimo, working for Women’s Day magazine editor, Joan Reeder.

Joan approached me one day and asked if I was interested in a newspaper career and what was I interested in. I told her I was interested in becoming a cartoonist.

As there were no vacancies in that area at the time she asked if I would be interested in giving press photography a go. My parents had decided to leave Australia, and my father approached Joan Reeder and asked her if there was any chance of my getting a cadetship in that area. She assured my Dad she would look after me and arranged a transfer into the photographic department as a copy boy, as I would stand a better chance of getting a cadetship there. A few months later a cadetship became available.

What is your favourite photograph of all those you have taken and why?

I don’t really have a single favourite photograph. There are so many different circumstances in which press photographs are taken that I have many that are my favourites for different reasons. The most published photograph would be a photograph of Gough Whitlam taken in 1972 at the Blacktown Civic Centre during his policy speech just before he became Prime Minister. This was my first really big news picture so you could say it’s one of my favourites.

What is the biggest change you've seen in press photography over your career?

I guess the biggest change in my career is moving from film to digital technology. Where once I had to get to a darkroom and then spend 20 or so minutes processing the film and then more minutes to produce a print for the newspaper, digital technology makes it almost instant.

What was the first camera you used and what camera do you use now?

My first camera was a Speed Graphic quarter-plate camera which exposed sheet film and now I use either a Canon 1dx, a Canon 5D Mark 111 or Canon 7D Mark 11, depending on the photographic assignment.