Second generation is now in the frame
JUST two weeks ago Michael (Mike) Rickards was honoured with a retirement party as he officially finished full-time work at Heritage City Photos based at Riverlink. After a career in photography spanning several decades, it is time for him to pursue other interests.
"I can't call it retirement. I think it is just a new phase of life. I could not imagine just stopping, we have other things to pursue but I will still drop in from time to time," he said.
Photography has been part of Mike's life since he was 16 years old.
"I started out at Owen's Studios in Toowoomba, where I grew up. I think my first boss set me up for the rest of my career. He was a real mentor," Mike said.
He moved into the RAAF and continued to develop his skills. He spent a period of time at the Queensland Times as a news photographer and ventured out on his own. Today his photographic work is really for his own pleasure.
"Donovan does all that now, he loves it. He does weddings, portraits and other special occasion events," he said.
Heritage City Photos is a family-owned and operated processing lab that also offers a host of services. The business has been sold to son Donovan.
Donovan Rickards came to help his father for two weeks and that was 20 years ago.
Heritage City Photos still offers great old-fashioned service.
"If customers come in and do not know how to work the computers we help them. You have got to care for your customers. Many of them have become friends. We are competitive on price but we do customer service brilliantly," Mike said.
He said that he would have the camera close by.
"The camera is the first thing I pack for a trip. Joy keeps the albums up to date."
He has several trips planned in his beloved caravan.
Heritage City Photos can still process film in store. They also copy old photographs, carry out restoration work and printing off slides. Of course they have the current technology to cater for all digital printing.
"There is no doubt that we are a printing shop. The big difference these days is that people take amazing photos because technology is so advanced and they are getting large prints done and having them framed, they get posters. They still get the prints done of the photos to pop into an album. Don is doing great work with the prints, he is excellent," Mike said.
"I can remember working with Tony Bennett at the QT and he worked with me in this business. He was great to start out with in the business.
"We started out on the mall, next to Harry Burke Pharmacy, then we moved under the cinema complex and then to a larger mall space again opposite the Bounty Inn."
Mike started out when there were four Kodak stores in the city and suburbs and he was the only Fuji store.
"I was told that I would only be around for a short while. Now I am the only one left," he said.
He liked the quality of Fuji and said that it was a good decision.
"It has taken 20 years to build the business up so you just can't leave it. I will always have an interest in it. I will go in to help Don out when he needs more staff, otherwise it is over to him," he said.
Don's son Declan now comes into the store to help and for Mike it is a treat to have three generations in the business.
"I have enjoyed it. I started when I was 16 and I finish at 66. I have seen some amazing changes over that time. Digital by far has been the biggest, it is changing too fast for me now, Don can keep up with it."
Heritage City Photos continues to trade normal store hours at Riverlink, near the RACQ on the outside of the East mall. Phone them on 3202 3097 or online at heritagecityphotos.com.