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Rest in Peace: Ian McKenzie (1939-2014)

Ian McKenzie: Master of Photography I, Honorary Fellow, AIPP, Fellow, OAM (1939-2014)

Ian McKenzie, one of guiding lights in the formation of the contemporary professional photography industry in Australia, died on Sunday, October 5.

Ian McKenzie, 1939-2014. (Source: ACMP Facebook page)

‘It is often said the AIPP is a family, a community built on the commitment and hard work of those who came before,’ AIPP national president, Ross Eason wrote in announcing the tragic loss on the AIPP Faceboook page. ‘Unfortunately we have lost one of our family and a man who had contributed so much time and passion for the better good of the Institute and the photographic industry.’

‘Working with Ian on industry matters over many years I could see what an amazing impact Ian had on photography, education and those around him,’ said Paul Curtis, former PICA executive director, who worked extensively with Ian over the years. ‘He was the most passionate of men amongst the most of passionate people. We have all lost a very good friend indeed.’

The following short biography is taken from A History of Professional Photography in Australia, by Paul Curtis (2013):

…In 1978 the presidential baton was passed to Ian McKenzie. Tall, slim, athletic, articulate and highly intelligent, the perpetually all-in-black and casually dressed, he cut a dynamic figure across the Australian photography stage for four decades. Indeed, his influence is still felt strongly to this day.

Born in Melbourne in 1939 Ian spent two years in chartered accountancy before becoming a professional photographer in 1958. Basing his business in Melbourne, he specialised in architectural and industrial photography and also shot aerial and illustrative pictures for company reports.

He joined the Institute of Victorian Photographers in 1959 and became a member of the Institute at its inception. In 1966 Ian began a four-year program designing and overseeing the construction of educational facilities and Diploma photography course at Prahran College in Melbourne. He was department head for two years and the diploma course Ian introduced was later reclassified as a degree.

In 1973, he returned to private practice and became the convener of the Institute’s national conference. Such was the success of the program, Ian was asked to perform this voluntary task for the next four conventions up until 1981. Ian has also had a long association with the Australian Professional Phootgraphy Awards, joining the National Awards Committee in 1976 and then serving as a judge and panel chairman until 2012.

Venturing into publishing with Attila Kiraly and Val Foreman, Ian republished Jack Cato’s The Story of the Camera in Australia under the Institute’s imprint. He went on to publish the Contemporary Photographer Series. This consisted of monographs by photographers such as David Moore, Athol Shmith, Lewis Morley, Wolfgang Sievers, Graham McCarter, Ian Dodd and Michael Coyne.

Up until the end of Ian’s term as president, the national conventions were held every second year and were known as ‘Hypos’, followed by the last two digits of the year they fell in: thus ‘Hypo ‘77’, ‘Hypo 79’, etc. The state divisions were encouraged to hold a division convention in the off year.

At the Hypos a trade display, which would only operate during conference lunch and coffee breaks, would be held in conjunction with the convention. The trade participation was important to the success of the convention as the revenue was mostly responsible for keeping convention finances in the black.

Ian was also actively involved in the first moves to bring internationally-respected photographers to Australia to give lectures to photographers and help lift the standards of the profession. Among the first of these celebrated international visitors were Sam Haskins and Monte Zucker.

The national convention model which Ian devised worked well until the trade suppliers felt that because of the escalating costs of mounting displays they needed to expand the show and attract larger audiences. This led to a new body, called the Australian Photo Industry Council, which was made up of delegates from all the various associations representing photo dealers, consumer and professional distributors, photo laboratories and, of course, professional photographers. Ian McKenzie was elected to represent the Institute and at his instigation it was agreed that the distributors rather than the Institute would fund the costs of overseas photographers to lecture at the Institute’s conventions.

Still continuing his service, in 2006 Ian McKenzie established and chaired the AIPP Commercial Group and became a member of the Institute’s Policy and Planning Committee. In 2010 he developed the structure and syllabus course materials for the AIPP National Mentoring scheme and managed the scheme nationally.

It is hard to think of many who have made such a long and sustained contribution to the Institute and to professional photography in Australia.


  1. lothar huber lothar huber October 17, 2014

    Very sad news, Ian was a good friend and customer of BOND for many Years. The news has taken us all by surprise and photography has lost a great Artist and a good Person. What can one say ,we all have to go one day ,but when it happens to a friend it is very hard to take. Lothar huber

  2. Janet Green Janet Green June 10, 2017

    Goodbye old mate. Rest in Peace.

  3. Eliza Richards Eliza Richards February 28, 2019

    Was a great ride working with you

  4. Nick Veltjens Nick Veltjens September 23, 2020

    Ian was a good friend while he lived in Melbourne. He helped me with his brilliant photos of the model of my entry in the architectural competition for the Australian Parliament Building. RIP

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