Reynolds Mark “Rennie” Ellis (1940-2003) was a social and social-documentary photographer who also worked as an advertising copywriter, seaman, lecturer and television presenter over the course of his life. However he is best remembered for his observations of Australian life. Indeed some of his photos have become icons of what we now call “Australiana”.
Ellis saw his photographic excursions as a series of encounters with people’s lives. His photos can be as straightforward and blatant as a head-butt or infused with enigmatic subtleties that draw on the nuance of gesture and the significance of ritual. The collection highlights some of the defining images of Australian life from the 1970s and 1980s.
Although invariably infused with his own personality and wit, the thousands of social documentary photographs taken by Ellis now form an important historical record.
The photographs explore the cultures and subcultures of the period, and provide a strong sense of a place that now seems a world away. A world free of risk, of affordable inner city housing, of social protest, of disco and pub rock.