Rennie Ellis: Mirka Mora c.1973

Work / Photography

Rennie Ellis’ amazing photographs of Australia’s infamous and famous

Andy Warhol once said that “My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.” The legendary Australian photographer Rennie Ellis’s Famous and Infamous series is both in focus AND features famous faces, but the series is more than just a collection of good pictures: it’s a collection of great ones.

Rennie photographed infamous Australian characters from the early 70s all the way up to the early 90s, and he captured his subjects in their natural habitats, sometimes even completely au naturel. His subjects were obviously at ease behind his lens, which gives the photographs a very touching and personal quality, and allowed Rennie to capture some incredibly eccentric moments. The surprising compositions feature Barry Humphries oil painting on a beach in incredibly tight speedos, Melbourne socialite Lillian Frank lounging in a sparkling gown with her poodle puppy, and Molly Meldrum cycling along a suburban street with his floppy dog.

On Rennie’s website, which archives his incredible legacy, the accompanying text describes the power of this particular series very simply: “Rennie’s camera became the key that unlocked doors and gave him access to the famous and infamous. His spirited but never spiteful work made him almost as well known as the celebrities he photographed.”


Rennie Ellis: Barry Humphries, Cathedral Rock #2 1981


Rennie Ellis: Carol Jerrems #2, Mozart St 1970


Rennie Ellis: Lillian Frank 1994


Rennie Ellis: Molly Meldrum & Dog 1978


Rennie Ellis: Carol Jerrems, Mozart St 1970


Rennie Ellis: Gilbert & George, NGV 1973


Rennie Ellis: Malcolm Fraser, Campaign Opening 1980