Richard Learoyd was born in Nelson, Lancashire in 1966. He studied Fine Art Photography at the Glasgow School of Art, where he was a student of Professor Thomas Joshua Cooper. He taught photography at Bournemouth and Poole college of Art and Design from 1994 to 1997 and worked as a commercial photographer in London until 2002. Learoyd’s photographic work, characterised by the use of a room-sized camera obscura, was first exhibited in London in 2007.


Learoyd’s oeuvre gives a contemporary interpretation, whilst remaining deeply rooted in the past; both his black-and-white photographs and his works in colour are the result of a traditional process. He strips photography down to its essentials, following a historical photographic process invented centuries ago. His direct-positive colour prints are produced using a custom-built, in-studio camera obscura, composed of two dark chambers and a fixed lens which exposes light directly onto photo-sensitive Ilfochrome paper. Because the prints are not enlarged from negatives, the resulting images are grainless and exceptionally detailed.


“For me my pictures of flowers are an exercise in balance. An arrangement of mass and colour in space. A compositional conundrum of how wrong a picture can be before it tips over the edge of stupidity. Flowers only last a day or two once they are uprooted. These pictures explore the beauty in aging and decay. They measure the old and the fresh. When I look at them, I measure their success simply on how they feel, how they communicate the fragile nature of life and the inevitability of an end.” – Richard Learoyd, 2022


In 2015, Aperture released Richard Learoyd: Day for Night, a comprehensive book of colour portraits and studio work, and concurrently, The Victoria & Albert Museum in London mounted his first solo museum exhibition, Dark Mirror. Learoyd’s work is included in the collections of The Getty, Tate, Centre Pompidou, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum, National Gallery of Canada, and Yale University Art Gallery, among others.