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Fish (Richard) Collection
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  • Biographical Information:
  • Scope and Contents
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  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
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  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Richard Fish Collection
    Creator: Fish, Richard, 1919-2005
    Identifier/Call Number: URB.RF
    Physical Description: 65.16 linear feet
    Physical Description: 679.91 Megabytes
    Date (inclusive): 1934-2005
    Date (bulk): 1934-2005
    Abstract: Richard Fish was born in Los Angeles, California on February 25, 1919. He earned a bachelor's degree in Cinematography and Journalism at the University of Southern California in 1940, served in the United States Army during World War II, and later attended the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The Richard Fish Collection documents his career as a professional photographer with a focus on residential and commercial architecture and landscape design, art and artists, writers and composers, celebrities and public figures, and natural land and waterscapes. The collection consists of records, documents, correspondence, diagrams, maps, promotional material, publications, notes, photographic material, audio recordings, and ephemera.
    Language of Material: English.

    Biographical Information:

    Richard Fish was born in Los Angeles, California on February 25, 1919. His father, Benjamin Fish, worked in the motion picture distribution business, initially for his brother Samuel Goldwyn, and later for other companies. The family frequently moved and Fish spent his grammar school years in Seattle, Washington, then moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Later, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois where he attended Hyde Park High School. In his last semester of high school his family moved to Beverly Hills, California. At Beverly Hills High School, Fish wrote for the Beverly Hills High Lights and the Beverly Hills Citizen. He graduated in 1936.
    Following high school, Fish attended the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a Cinematography and Journalism degree in 1940. He worked for Lockheed Aircraft Company in Burbank before being drafted in 1944. Fish served as a United States Army Technician, fourth grade, and was stationed in Germany. While in the Army, he met Boris Kremenliev, who later became a composer and professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Fish was discharged from the Army in June 1946.
    In 1947, Fish began attending the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (now the San Francisco Art Institute) where he studied with Ansel Adams, Minor White, and other renowned photographers. In 1948, Kremenliev invited Fish to photograph composer Arnold Schönberg and his family for a German music magazine. Many of Fish's Schönberg photographs were featured in an exhibition celebrating the opening of the Schönberg Institute, which was located on the campus of the University of Southern California. An exhibition of these photographs was also presented in August, 2007 at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna. Fish began working for the Los Angeles Times in 1953. In March 1959, the Times sent him to photograph homes in the historic San Angel neighborhood of Mexico City, which marked the beginning of his interest in home and landscape design photography. Over the next several decades, Fish also experienced a growing interest in capturing images of painters, sculptors, musicians, composers, actors, and writers, and over the years photographed Robinson Jeffers, Rico Lebrun, Peter Voulkos, José Luis Cuevas, Lorenzo Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Jean Arthur, Richard Chamberlain, Bruce Dern, and Igor Stravinsky.
    Over his long career, Fish photographed and wrote articles for a variety of publications, including Los Angeles Times Home Magazine, Sunset, Better Homes and Gardens, House and Garden, House Beautiful, Home, Chicago Sun-Times Magazine, Garden Design, Southern California Home and Garden, and T.V. Guide. He photographed many celebrities and public figures, including Ed Asner, Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eddie Albert, Larry Hagman, Michael Landon, Jacqueline Smith, Liz Claiborne, Frances and Sidney Brody, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, and Sobey Martin.
    Richard married his wife Marie on April 29, 1972. The couple traveled widely throughout the 1970s and 1980s, both nationally and abroad. Many of his most beautiful and interesting architectural and landscape photographs are those he took while visiting Asia, Europe, and the Netherlands.
    Fish was a member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers and served as President of the Los Angeles chapter of the organization. He received the Merit Award from Philadelphia First, The Art Directors Club for a 1980 magazine editorial in TV Guide. Richard Fish passed away on December 8, 2005, at the age of 86.

    Scope and Contents

    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.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Client Files, 1955-2004
        Subseries A: Records, Documents, and Correspondence, 1955-2004
        Subseries B: Photographic Material, 1961-2001
        Subseries C: Recorded Interviews, circa 1970-circa 1989
    Series II: Work Orders, 1952-1988
        Subseries A: Records and Notes, 1952-1988
        Subseries B: Photographic Material, circa 1952-circa 1988
    Series III: Subject Files, 1950-2002
        Subseries A: Records and Research Material, 1951-2002
        Subseries B: Photographic Material, 1950-1991
    Series IV: Publications, 1959-2003
        Subseries A: Magazines and Marketing Material, 1959-2003
        Subseries B: Photographic Material, 1960-1998
    Series V: Administrative Files, 1959-2005
    Series VI: Personal Files, 1890, 1934-1946, circa. 1980-circa 1998

    Conditions Governing Access:

    This collection is open for research use.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Marie Fish. 12/15/2006. 2008



    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Processing Information:

    Holli Teltoe, 2014