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Ron and Valerie Taylor

by an unknown artist

type C photograph (sheet: 41.8 cm x 29.6 cm, image: 39.0 cm x 26.4 cm)

Valerie Taylor AM (b. 1935) and Ron Taylor AM (1934–2012) were marine conservationists and pioneers of underwater cinematography. A world and Australian spearfishing champion, Ron gave the sport away on realising that photographing sharks was a vastly more rewarding pursuit than killing them. He and Valerie, also a winner of several Australian spearfishing and scuba titles, met in the late 1950s and married in 1963, by which time their first major documentary The Shark Hunters had been sold to Australian and American television. They formed their own production company in 1969, the year they were consultants for the US feature film Blue Water, White Death. Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s they made and provided footage for numerous films and television programs, among them Wild, Wild World of Animals (1973–78) and Blue Wilderness (1992); and in 1974 they filmed the live shark underwater scenes for the Spielberg blockbuster Jaws. Both were also vigorous and successful campaigners for marine conservation legislation; and the recipients of many prestigious awards for environmental work and underwater photography, their images appearing in magazines such as National Geographic and Time. Valerie’s work continued following her husband’s death from cancer in 2012; most recently, in 2014, she spoke out against proposed changes to South Australian marine park laws.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Valerie Taylor and Ron Taylor AM 2006
Accession number: 2006.39