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Update: Richard Dormer – ‘the first photographer to take models out of the studio and onto locations!’

Just had an interesting update on our search to find the copyright holder of photographer Richard Dormer – first reported Dec 2016

Update: 16 November 2018 – This from David Grey (also as a comment below)

My name is David Grey. I was Richard Dormer’s assistant between 1970 and 1973. I was a very naive 19 year old from a background that would never have mixed in the fashion environment.
We shot a lot of black and white and I think Mr Dormer, as he was always known, gave me the job on the basis of my printing which I had learned at my first job in London. We would shoot the pictures in the morning, he and the client would then have lunch, which he would cook (as the previous poster commented he was a brilliant chef!). I would go to the darkroom and process the film and be able to present the client with a contact sheet after lunch.
He was always charming and protective of me. I had never come across a ‘gay’ situation before but I never felt threatened and found his other gay friends/clients very entertaining. He was a gentleman of a previous era where homosexuality was not spoken about and I never thought it strange that he and Paco (who was also charming) lived in the same house together.
They introduced me to a world of fashion and glamour that one would only read about. I had only been with him for a few weeks when we flew off to San Fransisco and Fiji for Elegance Magazine. The same client wanted to go to Egypt for another issue and Mr Dormer knew a lady called Anne Gunning, a fabulous model at the time who married Anthony Nutting. I believe I am right in saying that Anthony Nutting was in Anthony Eden’s government at the time of the Suez crisis and took the side of the Egyptians. We thus had first class treatment in Cairo and Abu Simbel. It was a wonderful trip except that shooting fur coats in that temperature was a nightmare. These were the days when the models would do their own hair and make-up. We further went on trips to Greece, Morocco and Paris, each one an eye opener for a young man. I have four or five magazines from those shoots.
I should also mention that he had a wonderful assistant who would do all the office jobs from booking models to handling the money, her name was Rita Kindon. The models I remember that we worked with were Kasia, Moira Swan, Sandra Paul, Pauline Stone and many others whose names I have forgotten, with apologies.
We shot on 35mm as well as 6×6 and all the way up to 10×8. He had had made a Gandolfi camera after the war which I subsequently bought, but that is another story.
Richard Dormer was a wonderful man, kind and generous, it was a sad day when I left his employ, but he taught me an enormous amount which I took on into my own photographic career.

-ENDS-

Update 7 August 2018 – This in from a relative of Richard:

Hello Will,
I lived in Canada for my early life, moving to London in 1979…Dick was living in Baron’s Court at that time, he had a Garden flat with his studio in the Garage. Paco Torres, who was also a photographer lived with him then. At that time both Dick and Paco were doing a lot of catalogue work…it paid the bills. I don’t have any photos from then. Although I remember they took photos for Harrods and Selfridges and Harvey Nicks Christmas catalogues…the grander end of catalogue work.
I married and moved to Saudi in 1984, so lost touch with Dick until I returned in March 1985. My eldest daughter was born in November, and when she was about 4 months old I registered her for Canadian citizenship. I needed passport photos of her and asked Dick if he could take them….ever obliging he said yes and we went to see him at Baron’s Court. He took a whole roll of film, none of which were suitable but he gave me the negatives and the contact sheet…which my daughter has framed!

We moved to Texas in 1990 and again I lost touch with Dick, for the 5 years we were in Houston. Upon my return, I discovered  he had sold his house in Baron’s court and bought a large ground floor Garden flat in Wimbledon, just off the common. He had 2 dogs, both Pugs, and so lived near where he could walk them daily. Dick had a great eye and his apartment was very elegant, warm and welcoming, full of books, antiques and flowers. He surrounded himself with comfort. He was a great cook and made amazing meals. His kitchen had an old dresser loaded with old Majolica green plates and serving dishes. His social life was very hectic and he had a great many grand friends and companions. He was a wonderful raconteur and told some amazing stories.

The Dormer family is the 6th Oldest Catholic Family in  England, arriving with the Norman Conquest…consequently there are some interesting characters in the family history. The Duchess of Ferria was a Dormer and Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth 1. Since the family were recussiants, one of the members of the Gunpowder Plot was a Dormer. More recently Sir Cecil Dormer, was the first Catholic Diplomat in 350 years! He was secretary to Lord Balfour and present at the meeting for the Balfour Commission dividing up the Middle East and Israel. Sir Cecil was instrumental as British Ambassador to Norway, in aiding the Norwegian Royal Family to escape to Britain in advance of the Nazi invasion…Dick was in the navy during the war and was one of the sailors on the ship that brought the Norwegians to England.

He lived an eventful life, busy and full, artistic and amusing.
Finally as afterthought : apparently Dick was the first photographer to take models out of the studio and onto locations!

-ENDS

2 comments

  • Really interesting. I’m very familiar with Richard Dormer’s work from our time representing the National Magazine Company archive as he shot loads for Harper’s Bazaar.

  • My name is David Grey. I was Richard Dormer’s assistant between 1970 and 1973. I was a very naive 19 year old from a background that would never have mixed in the fashion environment.
    We shot a lot of black and white and I think Mr Dormer, as he was always known, gave me the job on the basis of my printing which I had learned at my first job in London. We would shoot the pictures in the morning, he and the client would then have lunch, which he would cook (as the previous poster commented he was a brilliant chef!). I would go to the darkroom and process the film and be able to present the client with a contact sheet after lunch.
    He was always charming and protective of me. I had never come across a ‘gay’ situation before but I never felt threatened and found his other gay friends/clients very entertaining. He was a gentleman of a previous era where homosexuality was not spoken about and I never thought it strange that he and Paco (who was also charming) lived in the same house together.
    They introduced me to a world of fashion and glamour that one would only read about. I had only been with him for a few weeks when we flew off to San Fransisco and Fiji for Elegance Magazine. The same client wanted to go to Egypt for another issue and Mr Dormer knew a lady called Anne Gunning, a fabulous model at the time who married Anthony Nutting. I believe I am right in saying that Anthony Nutting was in Anthony Eden’s government at the time of the Suez crisis and took the side of the Egyptians. We thus had first class treatment in Cairo and Abu Simbel. It was a wonderful trip except that shooting fur coats in that temperature was a nightmare. These were the days when the models would do their own hair and make-up. We further went on trips to Greece, Morocco and Paris, each one an eye opener for a young man. I have four or five magazines from those shoots.
    I should also mention that he had a wonderful assistant who would do all the office jobs from booking models to handling the money, her name was Rita Kindon. The models I remember that we worked with were Kasia, Moira Swan, Sandra Paul, Pauline Stone and many others whose names I have forgotten, with apologies.
    We shot on 35mm as well as 6×6 and all the way up to 10×8. He had had made a Gandolfi camera after the war which I subsequently bought, but that is another story.
    Richard Dormer was a wonderful man, kind and generous, it was a sad day when I left his employ, but he taught me an enormous amount which I took on into my own photographic career.

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