Saturday 12th September 2020
By Katrina Ferguson
The McCarthy name is deeply entrenched in our Institute’s history and today we’d like to wish former President and IAP/AIPP devotee, David McCarthy OAM HonFAIPP HonLM, a very happy 80th birthday.
Not only was David the son of Institute founder and inaugural President, Claude McCarthy OAM AAIPP HonLM HonFAIPP, he firmly established his own name and presence both within the Institute and across his 50-year career as a successful commercial and industrial photographer.
“Everybody thought the world of David,” said former President and long-time Institute member, Richard Bennett OAM MPhotog IV HonFAIPP FAIPP, who joined in 1974.
“He was a very, very good photographer,” former AIPP President, Malcolm Mathieson MPhotog HonFAIPP, said. “[David was] a very good businessman come photographer; a great operator.”
A Path His Own
Though born and raised in the industry, if you will, and unquestionably having big shoes to fill, David made his own indelible impression on the Institute.
“He was undoubtedly a chip off the old block in terms of energy, commitment, passion and orderly decision making. But he also brought with him a deftness of touch and a delightful sense of humour that made him a very powerful persuader and great entertainer.”Paul Curtis HonFAIPP
In 1976 at age 36, David was the youngest person to be elected President and was successfully re-elected the following year.
He was the first offspring of a former President ever elected – a happening not repeated until some 33 years later when Alice Bennett (daughter of Richard) became President in 2008.
The first Merit Awards for the AIPP were held in 1977 during David’s tenure, and his leadership paired with the drive and persistence of Peter Foeden and Max Townsend, helped materialise the national awards from mere concept to reality – now with 43 years of history behind them.
For 17 years, David was a judge at the national print awards (now fondly known as APPA) and served as a panel chair for 15 years.
David was the Federal Chair of the Honours Committee for 2 years and proudly represented Australia as Institute President at the official opening ceremony of the Professional Photographers’ Association of America [LINK: https://www.ppa.com/] national convention in Washington DC on the occasion of the USA centenary celebrations.
“All the national presidents from around the world were invited to the stage to say a few words,” said Richard Bennett, a fellow guest.
Richard explained David was invited to the lectern immediately after the very smartly dressed and well-mannered Japanese president and proceeded to mock his own hodgepodge suit resulting from a lost luggage situation.
“It was fantastic! And totally different to what anybody else had to say. [David] did a great job. Everybody was so stiff and formal and he came on as the typical Crocodile Dundee Australian – but he did it better than Dundee.”Richard Bennett OAM MPhotogIV HonFAIPP FAIPP
David is remembered fondly – if not infamously on occasion – for what Paul Curtis describes as his quick with and astute observations that were annually on show in his role as master of ceremonies at the awards gala dinners.
“David could easily have swapped his camera for a microphone in show business. As an emcee at the annual dinners he was without peer. His whimsical asides and observations of his fellows in the industry not only brought pride to the photographer’s heart, but tears of laughter to the eyes.”Paul Curtis HonFAIPP
David was emcee for many years and only replaced when the Institute and society at large became more politically correct.
“McCarthy would be the most politically incorrect human you would ever meet!” former AIPP President, Malcolm Mathieson MPhotog HonFAIPP, affectionately joked. “I like him a lot. He’s a very likable character.”
“Like a lot of photographers, [David] would use humour to get a reaction from his clients…by teasing them and using colourful language.”Malcolm Mathieson MPhotog HonFAIPP
Evidently however, David had a good sense of appropriate time and place and was well respected among peers and across the industry.
He was honoured with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 1995 for his services to the photography industry after the Queensland division of the Institute nominated him.
“McCarthy genuinely did a lot for the photographic industry, photography in general, and photographers.”Kevin O’Daly MPhotog HonFAIPP
Like father, like son: Claude too was awarded an OAM many years prior.
A Legacy Left
“The very first foundations of what was to finally become the Australian Institute of Professional Photography were laid in 1912 when Harold Cazneaux of Freemasons Studio, and Sydney Riley came together with other studio owners to form what was to become known as The Professional Photographers’ Association [PPA] of NSW.”Paul Curtis HonFAIPP
Some 51 years later, in 1963, David’s father, Queensland portrait photographer Claude McCarthy, became the founding President of the IAP and served in the role until the end of 1968. In 1970 he became the first person to be awarded an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for outstanding and long-term service.
Claude joined the PPA in 1945, later became the secretary of the Queensland division for two terms over six years and served as State President from 1946-1954. He also served as the National PPA Vice President from 1954-1963.
As detailed by Paul Curtis in A History of Professional Photography in Australia, Claude was quoted in the Institute magazine February 1963 edition as saying: “My aim is the protection of the interests of the professional, and the promotion of a better understanding of professional photography: firstly by the general public.”
“Claude was a dynamo of a man,” wrote Paul. “A man of the age. He quickly set about the task of revolutionising the flagging association in earnest and became the true father of the association as we know it today.”
Father of the Institute, father of David McCarthy.
“We would not have had an association without Claude,” David told Paul of his father during the compilation of the Institute’s written history.
The AIPP established the Claude McCarthy Award in Claude’s honour. It’s presented annually to a person(s) for outstanding contribution to the photography industry – an apt description given the service and dedication of the man himself…emulated in part decades later by his son, David.
From all of us here at the AIPP David, we’d like to send warm birthday wishes your way and thank you for your long and enthusiastic involvement in the Institute. It’s people like you and your contemporaries who’ve helped pave the way and set the tone for those who’ve followed now – and long into the future.
Many thanks to Kevin O’Daly, Richard Bennett and Malcolm Mathieson for their input into this article. Historical detail was also acquired from Paul Curtis’ book: A History of Professional Photography in Australia.