Close Up Interview with Photographer Rick Dobbie

Orca and calf

Richard Dobbie Profile Pic

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I am an ex-Australian Army Officer with a passion for adventure travel and photography.

After leaving the Australian Defence Force I started my own business SAFAR or, “Journey” conducting Leadership and Teamwork Development programs and workshops internationally. This led to setting up and leading facilitated experiential journeys to Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa, the Amazon and throughout South East Asia.

An Art Student before joining the Army I have come full circle combining my passion for adventure travel, personal development, exploration and photography.

Arctic birds

 Arctic Birds

My travels have afforded many opportunities to see and photograph the wonderful, rare and unusual. From polar bears and orcas in the Arctic to lions and rhinoceros in Africa, scenes from across South East Asia, to penguins, glaciers and ice formations in Antarctica.

Through the auspices of my business SAFAR, I now lead small groups on adventure travel journeys exploring leadership and teamwork and the world at large – “journeys for the journeys within” and the opportunity to capture this special world in a photograph.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you draw?

I draw most inspiration from the natural world, landscape and the wildlife with whom we share the landscape.

Ice- Antarctica

 Ice- Antarctica

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?

Adventurous, caring, friendly, motivated, urbane.

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

Whilst still at school I started working during holidays in an artists’ paint and ink manufacturing company even being responsible one summer holidays for mixing all the coloured inks range. I was an art student myself and so quite enjoyed the work there. I was at one stage going on to study industrial design but from an early age was drawn to a military career and this vocation prevailed. At 17 I was accepted into the Royal Military College, Duntroon ultimately graduating as an Army Officer into the Royal Australian Armoured Corps as a tank commander.

Penguin- Happy Feet

Penguin- Happy Feet

As well as other operational command appointments that included command of a Leopard tank squadron, attachment to the Malaysian Army Combat Training Centre, appointment as Australian Liaison Officer to United States Central Command and Special Operations Command and being appointed as the inaugural Director of the Australian Defence Force Peacekeeping Centre I held a range of instructional and training appointments that included responsibility for the personal development and leadership training of naval and military officer cadets within the Australian Defence Force and for Regional Defence Forces.

After 30 years as an Army Officer I left the ADF as a Lieutenant Colonel and after a brief experience working in the film industry I began my own management consultancy as well as indulging a passion for travel.

Rhino- Zambia

 Rhino- Zambia

How do you usually plan your daily activities?

I maintain an Excel spreadsheet schedule of activities but also keep a handwritten diary/journal.

As an artist, what is your biggest frustration?

Wanting more time and ability to travel to the places I have listed on a very long “bucket list” and record them not just in a photograph but as a photographic artist – going beyond merely recording the image but fashioning it as art.


Tell us about how you prioritise your art?

I can’t say that I prioritise my art but I am increasingly spending more time devoted to it.

How do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?

I have been very lucky to be mentored by ArtSHINE and especially by Pascale and Vinh. Through them I have begun to connect with other artists and customers through various forms of social media.

Tranquil with Ice- Antarctica

 Tranquility – Antarctica

Your advice to artist who are just starting out?

Follow your passion, the things that excite you and dare to be different.

Tell us about your up coming Solo Art exhibition at ArtSHINE Gallery?

I am due to hold my first solo exhibition “Antarctic and Arctic – Poles Apart” at ArtSHINE galleries 6th until 27th April, opening on Saturday 9th April in the afternoon and a long lunch  with the artist on Sundsay 17th

This collection is a suite of photographs taken on a number of trips north and south to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Teenage Penguins

Polar exploration has long been an interest of mine but nothing prepares you for the sheer beauty and majesty of the polar regions. They may be “poles apart” and singularly diverse in wildlife but they share in common great extremes of climate and weather – the Antarctic is the coldest, windiest, driest and highest region on earth whilst the Arctic is similarly extreme with just the sparsest of human occupation. Above all for an artist/photographer is the magic and majesty of the ice. Icebergs and glaciers forged and sculptured over thousands of years into grand and magnificent formations and structures.

These photographs I hope capture just some of the beauty and diversity of these special regions that few of us are privileged to see firsthand. I hope they encourage others to travel north and south to experience these awe inspiring and wonderful works of nature.  

Giraffe with birds- Zimbabwe

  Giraffe with birds- Zimbabwe

How did ArtSHINE Business coaching help you and your art business?

Greater understanding of how to develop and promote my photographic studies as artwork and as a business.

What is your proudest moment so far?

Inclusion of my photographs in the group exhibition; “The Collection” at ArtShine in November, 2015

Waterfall- Luang Prabang

  Waterfall- Luang Prabang

Who do you most want to meet and why?

Unfortunately, most of those I would like to meet are no longer with us but of those that are, David Attenborough for his amazing life exploring the natural world and sharing it with the rest of us and bringing it into our very living rooms.

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?

Embrace and seek change and those things that are different to your own experience thus far. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

Currently reading, “Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God, Re-tracing the Ramayana through India” by Jonah Blank.


“South” by Earnest Shackelton,

“Travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China (Siam), Cambodia, and Laos: During the Years 1858, 1859, and 1860”, Vols 1 and 2, by Henri Mouhot, and

“The Glass Palace”, by Amitav Ghosh

Umbrella Sequence

 Colourful Umbrellas 

Where do we find you and your products? 


Shan House Lake Inle- Myanmar

 Shan House Lake Inle- Myanmar

About The Author

I am a Business LifeStyle coach who specialises in working with artists, designers, crafters and all creative professionals. Myself and my partner Stuart Horrex are here to help you to achieve your Life & business goal and dreams. We have had over 20 years experience in finance, retail,furniture,food,wine fashion,crafts and hospitality.

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