Robert Imhoff, who began his career in Australia in around 1970, is an advocate of versatility, working across the fields of film and photography, and developing a specialisation in lighting. His photographic output across three decades encompasses portraits and advertising imagery executed both in black and white, and colour, and ranging from relatively straight shots to those that are clearly highly manipulated. The subjects of Imhoff’s commissioned portraits are mostly notables in the Australian community: actors, architects, sportspeople, businessmen, politicians and members of local government. What is most striking about those portraits is their warmth, with a great many subjects being presented smiling, their faces alive and active. Imhoff’s portraiture is distinguished by a high degree of deliberation. The subjects are typically posed in the pared back setting of the studio without any props or accessories that identify their professions. In Imhoff’s portraits all attention is directed to the subjects’ faces, their stance and often their hands, which are further markers of individuality. The staple of Rob Imhoff’s work has been advertising photography and the assignments he has undertaken have proved extremely diverse. In all Imhoff’s work one of the most critical elements is lighting or what he refers to as ‘controlled lighting’. Another feature of Imhoff’s career is its internationalism. He undertook assignments for a variety of international agencies and multi-national companies, travelled extensively, and collaborated with numerous international practitioners based in Asia, the United States, Europe and England in particular.
Professor Helen Ennis
Director, Centre for Art History and Art Theory
Australian National University School of Art