Roger Swan: 27 April 1939 – 20 December 2014

Another great moves on!

Respected automotive and industrial photographer Roger Swan passed away peacefully on Saturday the 20th December 2014.

Born in Lyndhurst in the New Forrest in England on the 27th April 1939, Roger took up his trade as a photographer in the post war years at the UK Ministry of Defence Porton Down scientific research centre. During this time he achieved a professional qualification studying on day release from the MOD at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London. His speciality with the MOD was the then evolving technology of high-speed photography.

In 1968, aged just 29, Roger decided to migrate to South Africa with his family and took up a position as in-house photographer with ad agency Young Advertising. Stifled by the constraints of working in a corporate environment he soon broke out into the freelance world.

His agency work had brought him to the attention of vehicle manufacturer Datsun, at the time heavily involved in motor rallying, one of Roger’s passions, and he became the on event photographer for the manufacturer. A dust or mud covered Swan emerging from the action at the end of the day on an event became a familiar sight. Whilst his contemporaries stood on the side lines he got down and dirty on events and typically got the shot that others missed.

It did not take long for his natural photographic talent and professional experience to provide a breakthrough into product and general promotional photography. In this role Roger established himself as one of the “Go-To” people in the South African automotive industry setting new benchmarks for technical quality and service delivery in a burgeoning industry.

Very often a pronounced professional talent goes hand in hand with an inflated ego. With Roger Swan just the opposite was the reality. He had a tendency to understate his own capabilities and not fully capitalise on them to a fault. At the same time he was totally free with advice and support for others that wanted to enter the business.

He mentored a generation of young hobby photographers to the extent that they too became seasoned professionals. The fact that this could result in a competitive threat to his own business interests never hindered this, the promotion of young enthusiasts took precedence. Many would come close to Roger’s work in his prime but he still retained an edge that drove others to strive to match his benchmarks.

A traditionalist at heart, Roger was quick to embrace the explosive transformation of photography into the digital age. He rapidly adapted his store of technical knowledge from noxious chemical processes to the clean world of computer technology and successfully mastered the world of “Photoshop” once again happy to share his knowledge and experience.

His profession was never far from his hobbies, one of which was the study and collection of classic Leica cameras. In this regard he became a leading authority on the brand in South Africa. On the automotive front his choice once again tended towards the classic side where he favoured older Lancias for his personal transport rather than anything modern that needed to age a bit to acquire any degree of acceptable patina through use.

Like his interests, Roger was a limited edition classic, one that will be dearly missed. RIP Roger Swan.
Roger is survived by his wife Isobel and children David and Carolyn.

His daughter, Carolyn's address is 14 Coneway, Kelvin, Johannesburg. Isobel will be travelling down from the UK later this week.

There will be a private cremation. A memorial service is being planned, likely to take place during the second week in January. Further details will be advised when they are available.

We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to Isobel, David and Carolyn and family.