Born in Sydney Australia and educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School, Russell Roberts (Rusty) in 1932 ushered in a new type of commercial photography in Australia. Branching from selling to advertising, Russell became interested in photography as a medium to illustrate merchandise.
For a time he hired individual photographers to carry out assignments until one day he went miles out of town with photographer and model only to find out the photographer had forgotten the film. After this mishap he decided he’d be better off taking the shots himself. Knowing relatively little about it he taught himself with the aid of books and magazines on photography and a process of trial and error.
In photographing Margaret Vyner and Patricia Minchin for fashion advertisements, he launched two of Sydney’d earliest and best known models. By 1939 he had built up an extensive studio and a large staff. He went to America on an Australian assignment in connection with the World Fair.
Through the company of which he was a director, Audio Visual Activities, Russell worked on new techniques in the production of photo murals, sound recording and the production of documentary and educational films.
Photography in this age, he points out, embraces every phase of human activity and is enlarging our vision far beyond the scope of the human ears. He also believes that photography in its broad use is one of the most fascinating fields in which to be occupied.
“With photography by ultra slow motion, we can study such things as the blooming of a rose in a garden, or with ultra high speed flash we can stop a bullet in motion. We can see faults in steel to depths of 12″. We can by photography, record the life and progress of a nation and with it bring about greater international understanding.”
“Nothing is so needed in the world today as greater understanding, one of another, and how can this be achieved better than by the use of a camera? Everyone in Australia who possesses a camera has it within his scope and opportunity to interpret some aspect of Australian life. Picture people at work or play, how they live and what they do, whether they are building, mowing the lawns or playing sport, there is always something worth photographing.
Let us get a constructive angle on all things Australian, let us seek out all the interest that lies within within our land and picture it to the best of our ability.