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.
Rob Imhoff’s career in photography was not confined to practice. He has been a long-time advocate for professional and commercial photography through various roles. He was a founding member of the organisation ACMP (Australian Commercial and Media Photographers) which aimed to raise the profile of commercial photographers nationally and internationally, and was the editor of the Fuji/ACMP Collection books which showcased the work of commercial photographers.
He also established a photography gallery, The Lighthouse, which was initially part of the innovative Lighthouse Photographic Centre which housed photographers, offices and studios. Through these activities, combined with his own work, Imhoff has dedicated his life to creating and promoting professional photography of the highest standards.
Professor Helen Ennis. 2014 – Director, Centre for Art History and Art Theory, Australian National University School of Art.