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  • Writer's pictureRobin Page

Time marches on . . .

Wonderful to see the Australian Anglican Church Calendar (AACC) continuing on. After 30 years as the official photographer, I have a great love for the project. I was so pleased when Carol and her team at the Bookroom, St Peter's Eastern Hill, stepped forward to take on the management. Carol thought it would be a good idea for me to introduce myself and offer interesting snippets from my part in the project, over the past years, and moving on.

My name is Robin Page and my wife, Jenny, is my ‘wingman’. She maintains all the records and keeps me on track. We enjoy travelling together and have built the requirements of the AACC into our Australia-wide travels. Over the years, we have settled into a good routine that allows us to photograph the churches as we go.

I spent 20 years in the RAAF as a pilot in my first career. After retiring in 1977, I moved into the world of business from which I have now retired.

My photography began in the 1950s when I was an after-school delivery boy for a chemist shop in Melbourne’s Canterbury. The proprietor took in a range of simple Agfa box cameras and the equipment for processing film and making small prints. I was soon the proud owner of one of the cameras and turned the bathroom at home into a part-time darkroom. My interest in photography has remained strong ever since.

In the 1980s, several people suggested I become a professional photographer. This led me to take a part-time course at the Photography Studies College, in Melbourne, where I graduated with a Diploma of Illustrative Photography. I continued my work in business and became a part-time commercial photographer in my spare time.

Church photography entered my life some months after I photographed a wedding. The officiating priest, Geoffrey Cheong, at St Augustine’s Mentone, tracked me down to see if I was interested in photographing churches for a calendar project he was initiating within the parish. This really excited me. With the help of my father, Canon Cliff Page, who was then a priest in the Bendigo Diocese, I photographed the churches at Rushworth and Murchison and submitted these to the newly formed Calendar Committee. They liked the work and here I am, still!

The first calendar was published in 1993 and included only Victorian churches. The cover of that calendar was of the church located on a farm property near Tahara in Western Victoria. Taking that image convinced me that the project was blessed.

I left Melbourne before dawn in my 4WD under a clear blue sky and had high hopes that this would be the case all the way to Tahara. About an hour or so from the destination, a bank of heavy grey clouds appeared on the horizon ahead of me. I soon realised that this bank of clouds was heading my way. GPS devices were not in use then and I only had a mud map to help me find the church. So, there was some anxiety about ‘getting to the church on time'!

The bank of clouds rolled on towards me, and when I pulled up in front of the church, the clouds were close to obscuring the sun. I very quickly assessed the best composition, set up the tripod and camera, got my shot, and within seconds the light disappeared. I have never forgotten that divine intervention, and similar good fortune has blessed me ever since on a number of occasions.

My photographs are in a sense like children to me. In September 2021, we visited Tahara again and I had Jenny take a photograph from close to where my memory told me I had taken the original. The lovely tree that really made the original shot had gone, but the trees newly planted around 1993 have prospered. Time does march on, doesn’t it!

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