Born in Sheffield, England in 1949, Robert Butcher migrated to Perth, Australia in 1964. There, following an industrial machine accident, he was given his first camera by his father—a Minolta rangefinder adapted so Robert could shoot with just his left hand. Returning to England in 1967 to study photography at Twickenham College of Technology just outside London, Butcher became enamored with the work of Guy Bourdin and Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as the 60s Swinging London cultural scene.
After returning home to Australia in 1971, he embarked on a career as a fashion, advertising and music photographer, first in Perth, then in Sydney, shooting throughout 70s and early 1980s. His photography credits of this time include such titles as Australian Vogue, Mode, and Cleo magazines, as well as portraits of Led Zeppelin, Little Stevie of the Easybeats, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Stéphane Grappelli. His album cover work of the period includes the award-winning photo for the Midnight Oil album cover Place Without a Postcard, along with album cover shots for Rose Tattoo and Mio 245.
Relocating to New York City in 1983, he immersed himself in NYC’s downtown world, shooting for magazines such as Details, New York Talk, Paper, the New York Waste and the Village Voice, rockers including Cheetah Chrome, and portraits of various infamous beauties of the East Village.
A portrait of one of these tattooed sirens, Nadège, came to the attention of Outlaw Biker magazine, initiating Butcher’s tattoo photo period, in which he brought a fashion sensibility to tattoo photography, a ground-breaking combination.
With the dawn of the new millennium, he launched the Strychnin art gallery in Berlin, and his own magazine company, Veer, publishing the counter-culture art magazine Tear, for which Butcher photographed artists such as Mark Ryden, Elizabeth McGrath, and Joe Coleman among others. Inspired by these artists, and many others that he encountered along the way, he is now creating his own photographic-based images, using digital photography techniques and mixed media.
Butcher is a recipient of an Acker Award for Avant Garde Excellence (2016).