Australian photographer, Richard Bennett, who has captured the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for almost five decades, has been announced as a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) recipient.
The Bruny Island-based photographer received the prestigious honour at the 2020 Australia Day Honours and Awards event for his ‘service to photography’.
Richard has photographed the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race since 1974, and what began as a scenic flight to capture a few yachts turning into a career-defining passion.
Here’s an excerpt from Richard’s website:
In 1974, I took a scenic flight to Tasman Island where I photographed a few of the Sydney – Hobart yachts. After reviewing the prints, I began to plan how I could do better the following year. That led to a career niche, and a passion that I love just as much today as I did nearly half a century ago. The things that appeal to me about photographing the Sydney-Hobart from the air are: the many moods of the sea, the sense of participation in a great adventure, sensing the proximity of the elements, the wildness of the sea, the gales, the different light and the dramatic coastline.
When I approach a yacht from the air, I observe the sea, the play of light on the water and the storytelling clouds. I watch the boat, look for the photogenic angle, the set of the sails, the rise of the bow, the bow wave and the wake. These are storytelling elements. I want to explain the sea state, the mood of the sea and use the beautiful Tasmanian light to advantage. The light is different off the New South Wales coast compared to Bass Strait. And Tasmania’s east coast has a different feel to our wild west coast.
Richard’s portfolio offers a historic visual compendium of the famous yacht race. While he’s captured all legs of the race, some of his most dramatic photos show yachts navigating tricky windswept conditions with Tasmania’s mighty sheer coastal cliffs towering in the background.
He recently published Across Five Decades, a limited edition photo book featuring his favourite and most well-known images from the Sydney to Hobart. A selection of these images also appeared in an exhibition of the same name at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania in 2017.
Richard has also been a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) since 1973, serving as AIPP president from 1993-4, as well as other roles including chairman of Awards and Honours Committee.
All Order of Australia recipients are nominated by their peers, and then assessed by the Honours and Awards Secretariat. The Governor-General is then provided a list of recommendations from the Council of the Order of Australia. Richard is among 837 General Division recipients.