HE'S BEEN in front of the camera for over half a decade, but these days veteran broadcaster Ray Martin is getting behind the lens.
Despite interviewing thousands of people including every Australian Prime Minister since Robert Menzies along with a cavalcade of the world's most famous from Robin Williams and John Lennon to Prince Charles and Kerry Packer, the award-winning journalist is surprisingly coy about his photographic ambitions.
"I've actually been a closet photographer for years," the 74-year-old grandfather told The Senior.
"I was taking photos before I became a journalist."
In fact, he said, one of his biggest regrets in his journalistic career - which saw him based in New York as the ABC's North American correspondent for 10 years before embarking on his hugely successful TV career - was that he didn't get his camera out more often on the job.
"When I was a journalist the cameramen were always telling me to put my camera down," said Ray, best-known for his various on-air roles at Channel Nine from 1978, particular his time as host of The Midday Show.
"I spent all that time with these amazing people over 55 years and I didn't take photographs of them. Looking back I know they would have said yes."
It wasn't until he left Channel Nine in 2008 that Ray focused on his passion, and published a collection of his own photographs taken over the past 40 years and the stories behind them.
"I'm a storyteller and love to do it," he said. "For me the stories behind the photographs are as important as the photo itself."
He's also produced a documentary with acclaimed landscape photographer Ken Duncan, called Chasing the Light, been testing cameras for Fuji, Canon and Panasonic from Bhutan to Bruny Island and this June is hosting the second Aperture Australia conference in Sydney.
Taking the reins of the event, Ray will chat with six photographers about their work and the reality of the profession.
These snappers are National Geographic photojournalist Ami Vitale, Australian landscape photographer Christian Fletcher, ocean photographer Ray Collins, digital photographic artist Tamara Dean, conflict photojournalist Stephen Dupont and and film still photographer Jasin Boland.
"There is such a thirst and hunger for photography now," said Ray. "The lovely thing about the conference is the number of people there who have cameras and who like to hear about how to take better photos and learn from the best in the business."
While Ray is a huge fan of street photography the arrival of his first grandchild, Arlo, has encouraged him to take more portraits.
"I'm certifiable when it comes to him. I bore my family now by taking so many photos.
"The other people in my life tell me to go away when I'm taking photos, but my grandchild doesn't. So Arlo and the dog both get bombarded by me and my camera - plus he thinks I'm funny!"
Following the Aperture Australia event, Ray plans to head off to Norfolk Island with Canon and said retirement is not on the agenda.
"This is another life - it's nothing to do with retirement," he said.
"In the last 10 years photography has become my obsession - I can never get enough of it."
- Aperture Australia is at Sydney International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, June 22-23. www.apertureaustralia.com.au
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