After a successful career as a radio presenter and ABC executive Tim Ritchie is forging a new career as a photographer, but the transition came about almost by accident.
It all began a few years ago when Tim Ritchie, at 50, was by his own admission carrying a little extra weight.
Not only that, but he had been diagnosed with diabetes, despite his best efforts at doing the 10,000 daily steps which other experts told him would keep him healthy.
“My daughter was also a little sedentary at the time and to get her more active I asked her to teach me how to ride a bike, because I’d never learnt as a kid,” he says.
So the two of them repaired to the lane behind their Surry Hills home, his home since the 1980s, and Ritchie went the first cautious metres on his newly purchased second hand tredley.
“I just enjoyed the feeling of power when you put your foot down and went go,” he says.
“Back then, I had a senior executive position and I was really tired at the end of the day, so I’d get up really early in the morning and go riding.”
It was then that things began to change. Ritchie went back to see his doctor and his test results were significantly better. The explanation was that pedaling up Sydney’s hills was a lot better for his health than 10,000 steps on the flat.
And around the same time, he’d begun taking photos with his phone while he was out on his excursions.
This being – only – a few years ago, phone cameras were not as developed as they are now, so Ritchie bought a camera because “I wasn’t showing the beauty I could see in the early hours.”
It all clicked into a new gear and changed when Ritchie left the ABC.
He realised that as a manager he had stopped doing the creative things he’d done as a program maker, and the photography was a new outlet.
So instead of cycling to keep fit, and take a few photos along the way, now that he was fit he was cycling to take photos. And as he kept posting them on various social media his photographs were attracting positive attention.
“If I could have designed something for my mental and physical health I couldn’t have done it better, and yet this is just something which has evolved,” he says.
Today, it’s become a complete vocation. Earlier this year Ritchie exhibited in a group show at ROOM 205 on Oxford Street as part of the Artists of Postcode 2010 series.
It wasn’t his first show – he had some work exhibited at the Venice Biennale for example – and there are plans for more.
Today, Ritchie is out on his bike at around 3.30 am six or seven days a week.
He loves taking pictures of Sydney before the city wakes up, and says his ambition is to recognised as Sydney’s “photographer of emptiness.”
“My work shows a love of Sydney, but it’s a very selfish love but its unshared with anyone else,” he says.
“I feel so spoilt. I get to own Sydney by myself every morning.”
You can find more of Tim’s work at @tim.ritchie.photography.