It is amazing looking back at photographic studios that have formed my career. I have been privileged to work out of some interesting spaces. Ignoring the under the house space that my first business partner’s parents generously allowed us to use (gratis) in suburban Brisbane, my first real studio was in a 1900s Gentlemen’s Terrace house in inner city Spring Hill in Brisbane. The home of Greg Minns and Associates (later to become Greg Minns and Ian Poole, Commercial Photographers) was the basement servant’s quarters of a three storied, verandaed building with fireplaces and a gob smacking view of the centre of Brisbane. Whilst we were vaguely aware of the nature of this wonderful building, we were more concerned with creating darkrooms and a studio and most of all an entertainment den where all those wild parties would take place with hordes of creative types and stunning models.
There came a time when one must take on the world by one’s self. That moment came on Friday 13 February 1976 when the shingle of IAN POOLE does PHOTOGRAPHY was hung. A disused church was suggested to me by a friendly art director and following some lengthy discussion with the well established (and more experienced) David McCarthy (son of the Father of the Modern Australian Photography Industry – Claude McCarthy). David was suffering the difficulty of working in the centre of the city and was ready for more space and better facility. This former Lutheran Church of 4000 square feet (371 sq mtr) over two levels, had off street car parking, room for a courtyard and matching offices, darkrooms and processing rooms, with us sharing reception and work space. The space crunch of the 21st century was yet to come.
The courtyard was the site of many parties, a Brisbane Advertising Photographers’ Lunch and even a wedding. It was also the work place for such Industry luminaries as Darren Jew, Wayne Eeles, Cindy Limque, Joy Thompsen, Wolfgang Schoenknecht, Andrew Campbell and Rod Buchholtz, as well as a myriad of Queensland College of Art (old Morningside Campus) students who passed through the doors from 1977 until 1988. They still confront me at Industry events and tell me of my shortcomings!
Moving to premises beneath my Red Hill Brisbane home in late 1988 was brought about by an increase in rent and the growing awareness that the large Studio was financially unsustainable and probably unnecessary. By way of dollar comparison the Church was first offered to us for the incredible sum of $78,000 (in 1976) and then re-offered to us for the out-of-the-question amount of $250,000 in 1988. Unbelievable amounts of money (to our mind) and ones that are laughably small by contemporary standards.
Having visited photography studios in Europe and Japan, I was aware that the indulgent space that I had become used to was not being replicated elsewhere in the world. The move to my Red Hill home still gave me a nice office, a sizeable darkroom (including 5×7″ enlarger), a black and white processing room and a good sized workroom. The studio was limited, but adequate. Quality coffee could still be brewed, and a daughter could be ferried to and from a local school.
Ignoring the premises I worked out during my term of employment with the Government of the great state of Queensland, my (possible) last studio and darkroom is at Foto Frenzy in suburban Coorparoo in Brisbane. Including a purpose built darkroom at my parent’s home in Aspley, an early proto-type darkroom prior to that, then the premises described herein totals six darkrooms. Probably enough in one lifetime.