Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog


with 8 comments

Charlie Snook + portrait by Doug Spowart

I first met Charlie Snook in 1977 when he and I were among the guest lecturer team for the Binna Burra Photo School in Lamington National Park near the Gold Coast. The weeklong event was an inspirational live-in experience for keen photographers. Day and night workshop sessions were augmented by bushwalk forays into the surrounding National Park. Darkrooms for black and white processing and even colour work were set up to provide a complete experience of ‘learn and do’ in just about everything photographic.

Other members of the lecture team included Rob Heyman, Rob Bannerman, Alec Fraser (recently departed for the big darkroom in the sky), Ansett photographer Gary Lewis and of course Tony Groom traveller and photographer the son of the founder Arthur Groom. Someone was always up to something—whether it was photography, experiencing nature or telling tall stories of travel or life or just plain joking around. Over time great photographers like Steve Parish presented workshops and added to the yearly event’s reputation.

Charlie and I struck up a friendship that connected us with the love of photography and the natural environment. Apart from the annual Photo School adventures that included the Coomera Crevice, the Shipstern decent and the Ballanjui Falls abseil, Charlie and I, assisted by his two son’s-in-law canoed the Mann and Clarence Rivers from Nymboida to Jackadgery. Later when my mother and I began of offer photo tours around Australia as part of our Imagery Gallery business activities Charlie became a regular traveller.

Charlie and me on the river   Photo courtesy of Lesley Wall (Charlies Granddaughter

Charlie and me on the river Photo courtesy of Lesley Wall (Charlies Granddaughter)

In 1987 photographer Maris Rusis and I made a 10”x8” photographer’s journey along the east coast of Australia. We spent some time with Charlie helping to fix plasterboard panels to the ceiling of a house he was building at Minnie Waters near Grafton. A plumber by trade Charlie had worked in a variety of amazing projects including The Blue Cow tunnel in the Snowy Mountains, massive holiday resorts in Yamba and as a volunteer for the Catholic Church missions in the islands of the Pacific building community infrastructure.

In July 2011 Vicky and I visited Charlie and I made a portrait of him in front of his photo gallery. He stood proudly before his cherished image by Frank Hurley of the ship the Endurance trapped in ice in Antarctica, images from his travels and of family and friends.

Today we revisited Charlie to return his image as a black and white print—he was chuffed!!

Cheers Charlie.


POST SCRIPT: Charlie passed away peacefully in Grafton last Saturday, August 10, 2013. He will be sadly missed but his enthusiasm for photography, wilderness and Minnie Waters lives on with those who remember him.

8 Responses

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  1. I have Charlie Snook to thank for teaching me the art of, and love for, photography some 30 years ago. He taught me so much. I still have just as much passion for taking pictures as I did way back then and have just bought the latest Pentax. I often think of him and of what ever become of him, having moved away from Grafton myself to join the Air Force in 1985. I googled him tonight and up came your story on him so thank you. I checked Facebook but can’t find him there. If you are ever in touch with him please tell him Deb Johnson passes on her kindest regards. We had some wonderful field trips together.

    Deb Hoskin (nee Johnson)

    November 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

  2. Thanks for posting this – love hearing stories about my Pop. You learn so much more about people from the stories you hear about them. He would love this article.


    May 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

  3. Rest in Peace Charlie, long live your love of photography.

    Nambucca Heads Camera club members

    Nambucca Camera Club

    August 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm

  4. Charlie was my mate in Minnie, he tried very hard to get me into photography but alas….. Charlie is an icon, I will miss him greatly but hold many treasure memories of projects, drinks, snakes and whales together.

    Kay Black

    August 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    • Thanks for your thoughts Kay – snakes, whales, projects including superman plumbing ones, and the occasional beer figure in our memories or Charlie as well – Cheers Doug+Vicky

  5. Thanks Doug, he has a great grin in this photo. He will be missed by so many, he will also live on in all our hearts and in the many thousands of photos that he has developed over his time. Rest in Peace Pop, love you

    Vanessa Collins

    August 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    • G’Day Vanessa – Charlie definitely has processed 1,000s of photo in his time but those figures are nothing in comparison to the hundreds of 1,000s photos that have been made by those whose photography he inspired. Good on ya Charlie …
      Cheers Doug+Vicky

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