By Mick Jensen
Robin Pridie’s love of photography began more than seven decades ago when he received a Box Brownie for Christmas. Processing the eight photos on the film cost him a month’s pocket money and forced him to put his camera away for a while.
As a young lad at Christ’s College, he dabbled with processing photos in a dark room, but that didn’t work out.
The Box Brownie has long been laid to rest and replacement cameras have been used to snap countless photos over the years.
After winning the title of the best New Zealand young farmer in 1954, Robin (pictured) embarked on a whistlestop photographic tour of the South Island, capturing the rural splendour of his homeland, and in the process collecting a portfolio of pictures to take with him on a year-long farm tour to England, his prize for winning the contest.
Billeted on farms, he also took plenty of photos of England and returned home to share them with young farmer groups and others.
Robin, who was a Methven sheep farmer for over 30 years until 1988, and later worked in insurance and financial planning, is today a youthful 86-year-old, and says photography continues to be a passion in his life.
His late wife Neroli had been a keen photographer, he said, and while he focused primarily on landscapes, she liked to snap people.
“It was good that we had our different subjects because that way there were no arguments and no competition,” he said.
At the end of last year Robin published a glossy book of his photos called Our Place: Mid Canterbury.
It features 230 impressive captioned photographs, a short history of the district and is dedicated to his wife.
It captures both urban and rural scenes, and true to form, focuses mostly on buildings and landscapes rather than people.
The idea for the book, says Robin, came after a conversation with Paper Plus Ashburton owner Terry McNab.
“I’ve contributed a few photographs to the Paper Plus calendar in the past and I was encouraged to go a step further with a book.”
He said he was happy with the finished product.
He had focused his lens on different sections of the district on different days and had built up what he believed was a good “snapshot of life in Mid Canterbury”.
One of his favourite locations had been the Lake Camp/Lake Clearwater area, which he had photographed on a clear, cold winter’s day in order to catch the impressive reflection.
Photography was a great hobby and in retirement he had been able to indulge in it more, he said.
“I’ve been a member of the Ashburton Photographic Society for the last five years or so, and I’ve learnt quite a bit over that time.
“My current camera is a Canon which has clever technology and can be switched between automatic and manual.”
Photos these days are downloaded, edited and printed on a quality home printer.
Robin has accumulated 16 albums over recent years, each containing 120 A4 sized photos.
There’s plenty more to come, he says, and more impromptu road trips to take.
He is now taking photos of South Canterbury, but is still undecided if another book will follow.