Reynolds (Rennie) Mark Ellis

Rennie Ellis was an Australian social documentary photographer who also worked as an advertising copywriter, seaman, lecturer and television presenter, during his life. For years Rennie taunted, titillated and tickled our collective fancies with his images and words.

At the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive (established  in 2004) Rennie has left behind a treasure trove of over half a million images spanning over three decades.

Rennie founded Brummels Gallery of Photography, Australia’s first dedicated photography gallery. He established both a photographic studio and an agency dedicated to his work, published 17 photographic books and held numerous exhibitions in Australia and overseas. He died after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage at 62.

After completing his schooling at BGS, Rennie won a scholarship to the University of Melbourne in 1959. He left during his first year to work as an office boy at Orr Skate & Associates, a Melbourne advertising agency. He subsequently studied advertising at RMIT but before obtaining his diploma he spent two years travelling the world with his first camera to record his travels, and worked as a seaman en route.

By 1967 Rennie was creative director at Monahan Dayman Advertising in Melbourne but left in 1969 to become a freelance photographer.

In 1971 Rennie had his first exhibition and published his first book, formed from work in Kings Cross, Sydney.

A year later he established Brummels Gallery of Photography above a restaurant of that name in Toorak Road, South Yarra. In 1974 Rennie went on to form Scoopix Photo Library in Prahran, which later became the exclusive Australian agent for New York’s Black Star photos. In 1975 he opened his studio at the same premises, Rennie Ellis & Associates, where he operated from for the rest of his life.

Once established as a photographer, Rennie worked, exhibited and published continuously. Magazines that he contributed to were as varied as Playboy and The Bulletin; his books and exhibitions were on subjects including the beach, beer, graffiti, Australian railway stations and the Rio carnival.

In 1993 Rennie became a co-presenter on the Nine Network’s lifestyle program ‘Looking Good’, continuing in that role for three years and working with Deborah Hutton and Jo Bailey. In the same year his work was also included in Picture Freedom, an exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery in London.

Rennie’s work is held in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Library of Australia (all  in  Canberra), the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), and the Art Gallery of South Australia (Adelaide).

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