The Richard Fish Collection documents the career of professional photographer Richard Fish. His early work demonstrates the influence of mentors Ansel Adams and Minor White, whose technical and philosophical approaches to photography imbued Fish's work with a sense of artistic and emotional depth throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Although Fish spent much of his career in commercial photography, he continued to produce work that seemed to surpass the simplicity of the objectified image. Throughout his mid-career years, he focused on residential and commercial interiors, exteriors, and landscapes, exploring the use of light, space, texture, and color. With a critical eye for staging and styling, Fish captured a vibrant era in the history of home and commercial architecture, landscape, and interior design, during which self-expression and individuality were hallmarks. Fish also wrote articles which featured the owners of homes he photographed that were published alongside his photographs. In later years, Fish utilized his photographic skills in the areas of commercial advertising and the television industry, and returned to some of his early interests such as landscapes, seascapes, and historical architecture. The collection is arranged into six major series: Client Files (1955-2004), Work Orders (1952-1988), Subject Files (1950-2002), Publications (1959-2003), Administrative Files (1959-2005), and Personal Files (1890, 1934-1940, circa 1980-circa 1998).
Series I, Client Files, documents the relationships between Richard Fish and his clients. His client base was primarily located in California, and consisted of individuals, families, architects, construction firms, landscape designers, interior designers, television studios, film studios, recording studios, celebrities, artists, publishers, or marketing firms. The series consists of three subseries: Records, Documents, and Correspondence (1955-2004), Photographic Material (1961-2001), and Recorded Interviews (circa 1970-circa 1989). Records, Documents, and Correspondence includes client job orders, contact information, correspondence, invoices, consent forms, floor plans, design diagrams, blueprints, architectural renderings, biographical information, fact sheets, newspaper clippings, and article drafts. Photographic Material consists of photographic prints, negatives, proof sheets, and transparencies related to specific clients. Highlights of this subseries are photographs of film and television actors in their homes, such as Eddie Albert, Richard Chamberlain, Joseph Cotton, Mike Farrell, Burgess Meredith, Jean Arthur, James Cagney, Dennis Hopper, Ed Asner, Hope Lange, Bonnie Franklin, and Michael Landon. Also included are photographs of the home and landscape design work of Walt Young, Galper Baldon Associates, Isabelle Greene, Julie Heinsheimer, and Takeo Uesugi and marketing photographs for commercial clients such as First Pacific Bank, General Electric, and Mc Donald's. Recorded Interviews consists of fifteen interviews conducted by Fish, primarily with television actors and actresses in the 1970s and 1980s. Highlights include interviews with James Whitmore, Richard Thomas, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Redd Foxx, and Ed Asner. This series is arranged alphabetically by the surname or company name of the client.
Series II, Work Orders, documents Richard Fish's work, using his original system for recording work orders, associated contact information, and photographic material. The series consists of two subseries: Records and Notes (1952-1988) and Photographic Material (circa 1952-circa 1988). Records and Notes consists of six notebooks and collated notes in which Fish recorded scouting trips and photo shoots by assigning each a work order number. Researchers may utilize this original numeric system to locate photographic material found elsewhere in the collection. Details contained in this subseries may also provide clues for locating more information about clients and specific subject matter. Photographic Material consists of photographic prints, negatives, proof sheets, and transparencies, as well as a small amount of accompanying notes. This subseries documents the subject content associated with each work order number and contains a broad range of material, including residential home interiors, landscape design, gardens, decks, pools, and other water features. Images also feature families and individuals engaged in leisure activities, government and commercial building interiors and exteriors, art and artists at work, landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, advertising, promotional material, and candid and posed photos of artists and celebrities in their homes. This series is arranged in ascending numerical order.
Series III, Subject Files, documents Fish's professional interests and areas of research. The series consists of two subseries: Records and Research Material (1951-2002) and Photographic Material (1950-1991). Subseries A, Records and Research Material, contains articles, brochures, clippings, press releases, artists catalogs, memoranda, marketing material, and research notes which primarily focus on artists, writers, composers, home design, gardens, pools, and travel. Subseries B, Photographic Material, consists of photographic prints, negatives, proof sheets, and transparencies. This subseries includes images of modern residential and commercial interiors, landscapes, water features, patios, decks, historic landmarks, religious architecture, cultural spaces, cityscapes, landscapes, children with animals, museums, and tourist attractions. Locations include those in and around California and the US to foreign countries, including Mexico, Japan, China, Spain, England, New Zealand, and Sweden. Also included in this subseries are portraits of artists such as José Cuevas and Rico Lebrun, composers Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Arnold Schönberg, and poet Robinson Jeffers. This series is arranged alphabetically by topic.
Series IV, Publications, documents Fish's published work in home and garden design magazines, women's magazines, newspapers, entertainment guides, and commercial advertising, including Los Angeles Times Home Magazine, Sunset, Garden Design, Perfect Home, Ladies Home Journal T.V. Guide, and Peridian Group literature. The series consists of two subseries: Magazines and Marketing Material (1959-2003) and Photographic Material (1960-1998). Subseries A, Magazines and Marketing Material, includes full and partial issues of magazines with photographs and articles authored by Fish, as well as brochures, reports, and other types of marketing material featuring his photographs. It primarily focuses on the work of well-known architectural, interior, and landscape designers, and the homes of celebrities such as Eva Gabor, Eddie Albert, Jaclyn Smith, and Burl and Dorothy Ives. Subseries B, Photographic Material, consists of photographic prints, negatives, proof sheets, and transparencies that are known to have appeared in publications. Noteworthy subjects included in this subseries are television shows such as the "Addams Family," "Gunsmoke," "Peyton Place," and "Lost in Space." Researchers should be aware that published but unidentified photographic material may also appear in Series I, Client Files, Series II, Work Orders, or Series III, Subject Files. This series is arranged alphabetically by the title of the publication, company name, or type of material.
Series V, Administrative Files, documents the Fish's professional life, detailing his affiliations with clients, publishers, and designers. This series includes client contact lists and card files, photo shoot release forms and descriptions of locations, job registers and invoices, general correspondence, samples of stationary and business cards, and copyright/ownership stamps. This series is arranged alphabetically by topic or format of the material.
Series VI, Personal Files, documents Fish's education, early writings , interest in historical photography methods, and family traditions. This small series consists of diplomas, certificates, a Christmas card, family photographs, a high school scrapbook, an antique negative glass plate holder, and photographs of Richard Fish.