Robert Yarnall Richie (1908-1984) worked as a free-lance commercial and industrial photographer for many large corporations including those in the automobile, aviation, chemical, mining, petroleum, railroad, shipping, steel and other industries, both in the U.S. and overseas. Richie's work is significant for its artistic qualities as well as documentary information.
Richie often worked for Fortune, Life, Scientific American, The American Magazine, Time, National Geographic and other magazines, in addition to illustrating annual reports for Fortune 500 companies including General Motors, U.S. Steel, Gulf Oil, Phelps Dodge, and Dresser Industries among many others.
Richie further branched out into shooting oil production images in such areas as Texas, Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Richie expressed a preference for oil work, “There’s drama in steel, but there’s more romance in oil,” he said, “oil has so many different angles to it as an industry. Oil really has a story to tell in pictures.”
An avid pilot, Richie's work also contains thousands of aerial photographs from many locales, including hundreds of estates and clubs in Palm Beach, FL, Long Island, NY, Newport, RI, and other wealthy suburbs. Other aerials include well-known buildings in New York City, as well as bridges and other landmarks.
As a pioneer in the field, he excelled in making artistic views of corporate industrial subjects in a mid-century modernist style. Richie often took unusual angle shots creating dramatic photographs of what could have been mundane subjects.
His color slides of Grumman G21 and Lockheed 12, done in 1939 are among the best original photos of these aircraft:
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