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David Roberts

b. 1954

Melbourne-based photographer David Roberts was born in Forest City, Iowa, and graduated from Iowa State University with an honours degree in philosophy. Having completed an MA at Denver Seminary, Colorado, in 1986 he moved to Canada to spend nine years with the Dene Indians in northeastern Saskatchewan and the Inuit of Povurnituk, Quebec. During this period he developed an interest in photography. In 2000 he moved to Australia. Over the ensuing years, as he took an increasingly contemplative approach to making photographs, his cameras became larger. He now uses large and ultra-large format view cameras ranging from 5 x 7 inches to 20 x 24 inches and comprising a bellows, a tripod and a darkcloth. Though they are cumbersome and challenging to use, Roberts says, such apparatus offer tonality, detail and resolution unmatched by lesser camera formats. His black and white photographs are made using film and traditional darkroom methods. The critic Robert McFarlane has written that ‘Roberts behaves impeccably artistically . . . with a vision more from mid-last century than this millennium.’ The National Portrait Gallery acquired his portraits of Julian Burnside QC and Prue Acton in 2012 and he was a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize in 2014.

Updated 2018