Life's work captured iconic Aussie images

VIVIAN Jenkins was an outstanding, versatile news photographer who produced his best work as a freelancer, capturing some of the biggest moments in Australian culture and sport.

In 1972, he photographed actor Jack Thompson as the first nude male 'Playmate of the Month' centrefold for Cleo magazine on the invitation of founding editor Ita Buttrose.

That hugely controversial picture set the tone for Cleo, a magazine whose pictures and articles challenged current thinking in publishing.

On November 28, 1978 as the official photographer for the late Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, Jenkins recorded the first night game at the Sydney Cricket Ground that drew a crowd of 50,000.

He covered all the big World Series Cricket matches for PBL Marketing and the Australian Cricket Board and later produced two illustrated cricket books, Fields of Glory (HarperSports) and The Baggy Green (New Holland Publishers). His exclusive pictures were also used in Wide World of Sport Cricket Year Books edited by Richie Benaud, and an Ian Chappell book on the 1983-84 tests against Pakistan.

Vivian Jenkins, who died at 74 in Coffs Harbour on Saturday after battling cancer, was to his friends - who include cricketing greats like Viv Richards, Richie and John Benaud, Ian and Greg Chappell, Mark Taylor, David Boone and tour manager Ian MacDonald - much more than a remarkable professional photographer.

He was a loyal friend, raconteur and wit who enjoyed nothing better than a good lunch with friends and copious amounts of wine. His self-deprecatory humour usually focused on his experiences as a news photographer.

At age 14 he migrated from Wales to Australia with his family and commenced journalism as a copy boy on the Sydney Morning Herald in the late 1950s, moved to Melbourne Age and back to the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, then under Packer ownership.

In the 1960s and early 1970s he was always close to the action, covering events from horse racing and bushfires to the social scene, before finding a niche working under Ita Buttrose for the Sunday Telegraph magazine and Cleo.

He always said that in news photography you only got one chance to record that memorable moment and that meant total concentration.

He is survived by Jan, sons David and Tim from a previous marriage and three grandchildren.

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