For more than 30 years Geoff Tull has established an iconic reputation as a photographer in the Manning Valley and Great Lakes regions. From humble beginnings, Geoff has also been the lead singer in a pop band, a butcher and café owner. Now, he has left the lens cap on his camera … to retire? No! He is about to begin a new career, far removed from his previous activities. Meet Geoff Tull for an interesting insight into his life and thoughts.
Where were you born, and where did you spend your younger years?
Born in Gloucester and grew up at Wards River between Gloucester and Stroud.
What happened after your school years?
My father and his family had five butcher shops, and when I was 15 years I entered the family business.
When did you develop an interest in photography?
I bought my first camera while still a butcher and eventually started to take photos on weekends for weddings.
Was this your only interest?
No. While I was still in the family business, I joined a band as the lead singer in the late 1960s. We played everywhere from Newcastle to Taree. In fact, we had a permanent booking at the Manning Hotel for 12 months. So I had three jobs – one full time in the butchery and two part time in the band and photography.
How long did you stay in the family business?
Fifteen years and then started a café in Gloucester called Jethro’s. I stayed 18 months.
Why did you come to Taree?
My photography interests were increasing, and I purchased the Manning Studios in 1978.
It was basic. A laboratory I used in Melbourne had a seminar on photography which inspired me to change the studio and enhance my products. You could say we modernised the studio; we introduced improved lighting to Hollywood style. It was very successful.
What do you believe is necessary to take a photo?
Good lighting and a good technique. It changed many areas – particularly portraits.
The photographic world has changed with technology. How has it made a difference?
Since I bought my first camera, the revolution has been amazing. It has allowed everyday people to experience the marvels of photography. Lens, film to digital and computers have revolutionised the industry, making the end product easier.
It is difficult for you to walk around town without being acknowledged by the community. Does this affect you?
It is nice to be recognised. When I did the school photos, I was taking students whose parents were taken by me – it has been a good cycle. Weddings and portraits are another area that has seen me experience people growing and maturing. I have made many friends through several generations.
You’re putting the lens cap on your commercial activities and about to begin a new venture; what is it?
It is a promotional company for businesses and organisations in partnership with Craig Greenaway. It will have enormous benefits for sports, schools and the community.
What is your first venture?
We have a company called Out and About Promotions, with a Sports Development Card being the first project. The cards will be gold and silver, with the potential to promote businesses directly to thousands of customers, and all involved will be assisting to fund sport, charities and many non profit organisations.
How has the support been from businesses?
Locally, overwhelming. We have businesses from out of the region, so it is an opportunity for card holders who travel to use the card. We will be promoting businesses every month to all members in return for their discounts; there will be no cost to business.
How will organisations benefit?
They register with us to sell the gold and silver cards in their local community and beyond, with a percentage of the revenue from each sale retained by the organisation and repeat business on an annual basis when the card is renewed.
Are there any other organisations benefitting?
Yes! Ronald McDonald House and cancer research will receive a percentage from each sale, with the balance retained in a trust fund to be dispersed by a Board of Trustees.
Where will the Trust disperse the funds?
Anyone in the community can apply to be funded/sponsored to enhance their sporting career at clinics or in other areas. Also, any organisation who requires funds to develop their grounds or amenities and other special projects can apply.
It is an ambitious project. Have you any other plans?
We have had many requests from outside the region to establish the SDC card, and within 12 months we see the card being used state wide – and eventually across Australia. Due to overwhelming requests, we will be publishing a quarterly magazine called Something Special for members and businesses – to promote the Lower North Coast region, initially.
Currently we have several well known and high profile national businesses keen to join. Also, we plan a black tie dinner with high profile guest speakers and as we progress, the list of other activities will be introduced.
How long has the concept been developed?
Around 12 months. It has been refined for easy use, and we will have a website operational in conjunction with launch. Any community member is invited to contribute to our website with items of interest.
It looks like retirement is not on your agenda?
No, I would get bored. The SDC card is an opportunity for me to contribute and an opportunity to assist all communities to enjoy many benefits that are not available.
Hopefully it will contribute to helping stimulate economies and enable everyone to receive the benefits of the card.
Geoff Tull, good luck and thanks for your time.
Interview by Peter Lyne