Friday, 2 August 2013

Alf Rendell, photographer

Photo © Fiona Kean
Despite apprenticeship offers, and his father’s encouragement that he take a government job, Alf Rendell chose photography and stuck with it. It was, after all, in his blood. 

Alf’s father, Robert John Rendell was a professional photographer. Trained in Hamilton he travelled the country taking images that were often published in the Auckland Weekly News. Finding work scarce after the First World War he moved his family to Tauranga to become the town’s meter reader working with the electrical pioneer Lloyd Mandeno. In 1926 his desire to return to photography led him to purchase a photographic business from Robert Meers.

This photograph  includes a view of the Cabana Lodge on Adams Ave. It is the two storied building between Mt Maunganui Road and The Mall. Other notable buildings in this image include Adams Cottage to the right of the Lodge, the Oceanside Hotel and the Peter Pan Hall at the base of Mt Drury. Photo © Alf Rendell
Initially working from home in Edgecumbe Road the business grew and a studio was established in the Triangle Building at the bottom of Devonport Road. Downstairs Alf’s mother ran the shop while upstairs his  father took portraits. His sister Marje developed film and colour tinted photographs, something she was very good at. It was Marje who showed Alf how to work in a dark room and he clearly remembers developing his first film. The joy he felt when the image was revealed has always stayed with him.

With his father’s health failing in 1938 Alf, aged 20, took over the business only to find himself closing it in 1941 when army service in the Pacific called. Although the studio was converted into a Chinese Laundry the sympathetic  landlord promised the building would be available on Alf’s return.

On the corner of Spring and Durham Streets was Sam Snowden's Service Station, one of several stations in town. The Austin 10 to the right of the photograph was owned by Alf who took this shot in the 1950s.  Photo © Alf Rendell
After the war Rendell’s Photoservice included a Candid Studio, photo finishing and camera retail. Alf also worked as a freelance photographer trading under the name Renwood Studio. Finding himself pulled in too many directions Alf made the decision to sell, keeping only the retail side of the business which he passed on to his son Graham, also a photographer.

Over his more than 80 years of taking photographs in Tauranga Alf has captured many important moments from smiling babies to happy wedding days. He’s flown in aeroplanes to get panoramic views and recorded buildings and businesses that have long since disappeared. It is Tauranga’s history that Alf captured through his lens and continues to share with others.  

If you would like to purchase a Rendell print call Alf on 07 576 9237

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