Rich Blenkinsopp – I grew up as a shy kid in Bristol, England, and moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland, on the very east coast of Canada, in 1999 at the grand old age of 31. I was a terrible student in school (though some things came easy) but managed enough to get a couple of administrative jobs in Bristol with the government, and Sun Alliance Assurance Co, before moving on out. As computers became a bigger part of our life, I was able to develop with them, and became a VBA programmer in order to do things with Excel that really shouldn’t be possible. After becoming a Canadian permanent resident, I was lucky enough to get a job with Memorial University of Newfoundland, starting out as the Concerts and Facilities Coordinator with the School of Music, before moving on to the role of Music Technologist, also with the School of Music. I worked with the School of Music for seventeen years.
This wasn’t as completely random as the jobs I’d done before – I had a musical background playing the trumpet, composing, and audio recording in my spare time back in England – I was a much better practical learner, than a book learner. While at the School of Music, I furthered my musical chops, playing in big bands and rock bands, recording as a trumpet player with Hey Rosetta!, Funky Dory and Chris Kirby and the Marquee. I also played lead trumpet in some great stage musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Gypsy, Cats and Chicago with Tada Events. I performed on stage with faculty, and with the Memorial University Jazz Ensemble, and was a regular of the downtown music scene with Funky Dory. I have fourteen commercial album credits in genres ranging from classical guitar to rock to electronica – as trumpet player, audio engineer, mastering engineer, synth programmer and producer. I even completed a diploma in film composition with what is now known as Thinkspace Education, with film composer Guy Michelmore while at the School of Music.
While at the School, I also developed my second hobby, photography. I did some photography for the School of Music, and also became a regular photographer of theatre and concerts at the St John’s Arts & Culture Centre, documenting their concert series for three years. I did some freelance portraiture, mostly in the arts sector, and other concert and commercial work, with Theatre St. John’s, Artistic Fraud and the Resource Centre for the Arts. In 2017, the position of university photographer was advertised and I was offered the position. It took a lot of thought to consider a significant change in career at the age of 49, but I leapt to it.
The position is a varied mix of photojournalism, environmental and studio portraiture, event coverage, marketing and product photography. It’s a busy job and I’m accustomed to working without an assistant. It’s not all sunshine and roses (what job is?), but I love it and going to work every day is a pleasure. The people I meet every day are making a difference in the world, and I’m honoured to be photographing them.
As with everything I’ve done since leaving school, photography has become an endless learning experience for me. I enjoy new challenges, and learning new techniques.
I live in St. John’s, with my wife Kelly and beagle Jilly Bean.