Richard Oulton (1918-2000) was a commercial photographer who worked in Vancouver, Canada from 1962 to 1994, operating under a variety of names—Dick Oulton Studio, Dick Oulton Photography and Ricardo Photographic Services—advertising services for weddings, portraits, passports, photographic restoration and commercial photography. Located on West Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver, the studio was also his home.
When Oulton was hospitalized shortly before his death, he was forced to abandon his studio, and with it his life’s work. A bachelor, he left no heirs, and it was only the alertness of two friends who saved ten boxes of his photographs and negatives from destruction. These were subsequently offered to Presentation House Gallery, whose staff unsuccessfully sought a permanent home for it in local city archives. Oulton’s photographs remain with the Gallery today.
This vast trove of images is unedited, with few “final” shots. Portraiture, including weddings, publicity and fashion shoots, is predominate. Oulton’s forte was glamour photography, and he maintained an avid interest in certain female models, many of whom were likely his friends. He shot products for advertising, from widgets to prayer beads, as well as industrial products, building sites, nightclubs, wrestling matches, hairdressing championships, promotions, and visiting celebrities. His eclecticism is indicative of the role of a professional mid-century photographer, one who worked to produce imagery for an emerging middle class. Taken together, Oulton’s photographs form an oblique social and historical picture of Vancouver at a moment when the city was mutating from a working class logging town into one with metropolitan aspirations.
Dick Oulton’s photographs have been included in two group exhibitions, The Just Past of Photography in Vancouver, (1994) and Juliette and Friends (2008) as well as in the publication Meet Dick Oulton; Lynn Valley #5. This exhibition is the most extensive of his work to date. However the bulk of his archive, which contains thousands of unprinted negatives, has yet to be seen.
North Shore News article
Vancouver Sun article
Galleries West article
Tours of Dick Oulton Studios Ltd will be hosted every Saturday at 2PM. To join the tour, meet at the ground floor lobby at 1:55PM. These tours are recommended for general visitors as an introduction to the exhibition.
A French language tour will be available on Sunday, September 23, at 2pm.
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