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RICHARD COOK PHOTOGRAPHY

About Richard Cook

I was born in 1979 in Surry in the UK…. But I can’t really remember much of that…

At the age of 4 my family and I immigrated to South Africa. I started school the following year at the ripe old age of 5 at a school in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

When I was 9 years old my father made the silly decision (I say silly as he had to pay for the film and developing!!) of giving me my first camera. It was a Canon AE1 and to this day, one of my favourite cameras I have ever used. It was unfortunately stolen out of a friend’s car in the late 90’s. This camera was used to photograph anything and everything… some of my “favourite” shots include a shot from the roof of my parents house, the grass in their back garden and 100’s of blurry shots where I can’t even recognize the subject. But this was the way to learn (back in the day without digital).

I finished school in 1996 at Eden collage at the age of 17 and started working for my father’s insurance business. In June of 1997 I started at SA Make-Up School studying special effects make-up as well as normal make-up. I got my first job as an FX artist making teeth for the launch of the movie Blade. Wesley Snipes, the lead actor, was out for the launch. This was a great start to my working career in the media and advertising industry and was followed by many a job including body painting, TV commercials and editorial stills make-up. But the latter of the 3 is what really caught my interest. Having always had a passion for taking photographs, seeing these professionals at work was amazing.

I continued to work as a make-up / special effects artist doing over 700 TV commercials and 5 Feature films over a 10-year period. One of these commercials led to me selling my first still images, which were used for a European advertising campaign. I was providing make-up services on a shoot where I was allowed to take pictures when not busy with make-up. It was an unexpected opportunity, but it felt right and I decided I was going to pursue this further.

My first paying photo shoot was a modeling portfolio and was the most nerve- wracking day of my life. I was still shooting on film and was terrified that I might do something wrong and get 3 rolls of black images. But after years of watching different photographers I knew I just had to trust my light meter and shoot. Thankfully it all turned out well (and my nerves only got better from there)

I started setting up studios wherever I could find a space. My bedroom at my parent’s house, a supply room at my father’s office. No underutilized area was safe, and I just wanted to practice wherever and whenever I could!!

In early 2001 I decided to try my hand at digital and bought a Canon 10d. It was a strange way of shooting but I felt I could get used to it.

In 2002 my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) and I bought our first house in Blairgowrie, and after the initial renovating and painting I set up a small studio in the outside “games room”. This was my first official studio where I did model portfolios in my spare time, while still working full time as a make-up artist.

2005 was the year of my first Pro DSLR. I upgraded to a Canon 1ds Mk II, a beast of a camera. To me this is one of the best DSLRs Canon has ever produced.

In 2006 I built a full size studio. It was a major build but was well worth it in the end, and every studio shoot until 2014 took place in this customized space.

Through the years I have built a diverse client base of editorial and advertising clients including FHM, Oprah Magazine, Maxim, Toyota, Liberty Life, Nissan, Muscle Evolution, USN, EVOX Nutrition, Cipla and Fitness Magazine to name a few,

Now working with Phase One and Canon cameras, I mostly shoot in Medium format as it captures more detail than any other camera on the market with its staggering 80mp sensor.

In late 2014 I opened one of the largest photographic studios in Gauteng (Flashback Studios), which I designed and built myself, incorporating all of the experience I have gained over my career. I spend most of my days undertaking commercial and editorial shoots.


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