Peter Adams


Peter grew up in the UK and, at age eight, was given a camera for Christmas by his grandfather. “I didn’t know it at the time, but that small Bakelite Box Brownie camera started my life-long fascination with photography - mind you, it was interrupted from time to time by a muddle of other careers.”

After high school “which I couldn’t stand and never completed”, Peter took a position in a Southend-on-Sea at a plastics factory as an apprentice toolmaker. This was to be the only formal training he ever had. Two and a half years later the tool-making profession left Peter and he moved back to London where got a job as an assistant photographer to a Canadian advertising photographer.

Five pounds a week was barely enough to live on so Peter decided to look further afield. “I saw a job advertised in my local newspaper for a technical assistant in the photography department at the local art school. As I had never finished high school, I had no formal qualifications.  I was interviewed by a doddery old academic who was about to retire, so I invented my qualifications – which she never checked  - and got the job! I knew I would eventually be found out but I hoped I might get some sort of an education observing from the back of the class. 

"Twenty six months later the headmaster – who I had only met twice before - asked me to leave. As I was about to walk out of his office he added ‘If you get your qualifications, you can come back tomorrow!’ The best part was that during my time there I was able to assemble a portfolio. I applied to Australia House and one year later I emigrated to Sydney aboard the P&O Canberra  as a ‘ten pound tourist’. While I waited, I painted and sold abstract paintings in the Bayswater Road on Sundays - under the name of Retep Smada (my name backwards … and why not?)”

S.S. Canberra and landing in Sydney: between leaving London and landing in Sydney, the advertising agency Peter was supposed to join had gone broke and he was out of a job! He had about five quid in his pocket at the time. After working as a ceiling painter for two years, he was hired by Bryce Courtenay as a trainee advertising agency art director. “Whitewash” says Peter, “was the perfect credential for being involved in the advertising business!”

Adams worked in the advertising industry for 14 years - including a six-year stint in New York where he started and ran the Graphic Design and Packaging Division of Ogilvy & Mather.

Back in Australia he returned to his first love of photography, opening a photography studio in Devonshire Street. He combined photography and Film Direction for a while, before turning to directing full time, working with several blue-chip film companies including, Challenges Accepted, Eureka Films, Ross Wood Productions – before launching his own film company.

After fourteen years as a film director, Peter returned once more to Photography and was a co-founder of the Blue Mountains Photography Workshops in Katoomba, where he now lives. Adams lectures and writes extensively, has work included in many collections and has won many awards. He is currently working as a photographer, sculptor, published author and furniture maker.