LifeStory by Rick Doble
An online illustrated autobiography and life story of an
Internet and multimedia artist, digital photographer and writer
which includes artistic growth and development.

at ages 5, 16, 23, 50.

Directory | Previous | Next | Illustrated Visual Influences Section | Illustrated Retrospective: 40 Yrs in Art

1975-1984 -- Thirties


I talk my way into a program that is conducting a city planning study of some small towns in North Carolina. When I show up, they realize they need a photographer. (Among other towns, we study Beaufort, which is where I live now. I gain a number of skills as a result of this job, including knowing how to take pictures in a strange place without upsetting the local people.)

I move to an old house on Main Street in Durham. I get the house dirt cheap. It is in a "salt and pepper" neighborhood. Because of my experience in the civil rights movement, I feel quite comfortable. When my father must be taken care of and then dies, he stays in the boarding house next door to me run by a close -friend, an older black lady, Lill Camp.

3a0lillcampMy neighbor and good friend Lill Camp. I took a picture of her for the cover of this novel about a black woman. It was published by the Carolina Wren Press. When my step-mother died and my father had to be moved from Florida, he stayed at her boarding house where he died.


With my contacts in Durham I work as a freelance photographer and set up my own photography classes. The classes are very successful and become the mainstay of my income. I often get more students than the lower priced community college classes or the Arts Council classes.

310sunny This portrait of my friend Sunny became one of my best known photographs and was published in Latent Image 3 (1976), a photography magazine affiliated with Duke University. I used her portrait for this poster to promote my free-lance work.


I start to write short one-page reviews for the local monthly publication called the WDBS Guide, published by the alternative radio station. Along with the review I publish selected photographs of different area people. I do this for seven years. It publicizes my classes and my free lance services.

I write the reviews because I want to keep my verbal skills "up to speed" since most of my work at this time is visual. Learning to write concise reviews becomes a valuable skill. (I believe it is harder to write a short piece that is to the point, than a longer piece.)

I do a photographic study of Durham, NC and then exhibit it in Durham. This is part of an on-going idea to create a sense of place by letting photography mirror a community. I believe local photographs can provide a way that a community can understand itself. It is attended by hundreds of people. Pictures from the exhibit are reprinted in the local newspaper and area magazines. I also receive a very positive review by the local art critic (who tears me down later).

330photoposter2 The poster from my Durham one-man exhibit (my fourth). It established me in Durham as a photographer.


My wife to be, Janet, and I take a trip to Florida. Below Miami we see the Coral Castle which is perhaps "naive" architecture. Made of big slabs of coral which weight several tons each, it was built by one man with no help. The slabs fit perfectly with no mortar. It is a masterpiece of design, conception, and implementation.

1978 - BAD REVIEW.
The same critic, who had gushed over my pictures in a large one man show in 1976, singles out my four photographs in a large group show and tears my work to pieces. The work she singles out is some of my best. Why she did this is still a mystery to me. Later I realize that critics love to build someone up and then knock them down. I was such a small fish though, I wonder why she bothered. Nevertheless it threw a monkey wrench into my creative gears and made me doubt the validity of my work.

331review What a critic giveth, a critic can taketh! This very positive review was followed two years later by a scathing criticism of some of my best work. Artists take note: You need to develop a thick skin.


I get a grant from the state Humanities Committee to feature Durham architecture. In a 2-screen slide/tape show, I put an old photo in black and white on the left screen and a new photo in color (from the exact same angle) on the right screen. I use music from the "Durham Blues" era (e.g. Sonny Terry and Brownie Maggie) for my sound track. A landmark hotel has recently been destroyed and other buildings are threatened. I feature old buildings that need to be preserved and that are threatened with destruction. To my lasting pride, not one building that we feature is ever torn down.

340durhamrr2The cover of a program from a 2-screen slide/tape show about old architecture in Durham.

350durhamrr An article in a magazine about keeping and saving landmark buildings.


I write and then receive a grant from the NEA to research and archive a large number of photographs from Durham. I gather a number of people together to work with me on this project. Durham has had photographers since its founding and there is a rich photographic history. The final archive is placed in the Durham Public Library. I learn a lot from looking at thousands of historic photographs. We create a major exhibit of enlargements which travels throughout Durham for the next year.

360archiveexhibitThe poster from the exhibit of old Durham photographs. This exhibit traveled throughout the city for about a year.

1979-1985 - PARENTS DIE.

In fairly quick succession my parents die. First my mother in 1979, my step -mother and my girl friend's mother in 1984 and my father in 1985.

My girl friend (and love of my life) and I start living together. We have been together ever since. We are married in 1991. I insist that she not change her name. She makes jewelry and likes the art life style. She believes in me and my potential even in my darkest hours. Her support is essential.

370janet1 Janet. Need I say more.

371janet2 Janet sitting on the banks of Lake Butner before we go rowing in our inflatable boat.


One of the endangered buildings in Durham is an old church in the black community. I join the board of directors and become chairman. We offer a number of plays, blues concerts etc. A small theater company, Pocket Theater, produced dozens of plays a year. Many plays are written by Rebecca Ransom and directed by Coke Arial, both very accomplished artists. For two years I attend most productions. After I leave, St. Joseph's sponsors the Durham Blues Festival which has become an annual event and a mainstay of art in Durham for about 15 years. (St. Joseph's is a thriving multi-cultural art center now 20 years later.)

390drbarber From a photo essay for the Duke Alumni Magazine. Dr. David Barber, photographed here at his Jeffersonian farm, is a nationally known "psychologist" of presidents and is often interviewed by national television networks about a president's style of leadership.


I exhibit a retrospective along with new photographs and polaroids that I have been experimenting with. The show is at the frame shop where I have been teaching my photography classes. The show is well attended and received.

380computerdraw1My first computer drawing. I was really just playing with the technology at Duke University on a very expensive computer at the invitation of a professor. I tried to make a Jackson Pollock type drawing. This trial run may have given me the bug.


I had watched the TV series Fast Forward twice. This series, out of Canada, explains how computers work. When I start seeing small inexpensive computers in the malls, I am tempted. I decide that I will buy a computer if I can create a simple program on one (and I know next to nothing about programming). I see that kids are typing in a program that repeats their name across the screen. I figure out how to look at their computer code and then I try to copy it. On my third try it works. I buy a Radio Shack Color Computer at the mall.

Back to the Table of Contents page.

Go to my

page to see a listing
artists and thinkers
who have influenced my work.

Go to Rick Doble's
Digital Visuals

site to see a full listing of my visual work
on the Internet.

Go to my

site to see a full listing of my literary work
on the Internet.

Send me an e-mail message.

© Copyright 1999 by Richard deGaris Doble
All rights reserved.