To know Dr Jim Frazier OAM ACS was to love him. To love all that he did with his time on planet Earth, and all that he yet wanted to achieve.
The news of his death on Saturday, September 17, at age 82, was a hard blow, but what he left those of us who's lives he touched was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having known him.
He achieved many astounding things in his life, and left the world a better place. But for him, it wasn't good enough - he wanted to help Earth heal, and saw his life's purpose as bringing attention to the plight of the planet, having seen first-hand the effects of climate change, having travelled the world as a wildlife cinematographer and photographer.
What seems to be the most impressive thing on Jim's resume for a lot of people is that he was a cinematographer for Sir David Attenborough, having worked on the documentaries Life on Earth, The Living Planet, and Trials of Life.
He also is responsible for the cinematography, as director of photography, on the cult classic, Cane Toads: An Unnatural History, a documentary released in 1988, a short film which, ironically, satirises nature documentaries.
I can't begin to tell you just how I was associated with wildlife, because my dad was a butterfly collector, way back. As far back as I can remember I was in the bush with him.- Jim Frazier, 2016
Jim liked to tell people that nothing was impossible; he proved it to himself, and others, a number of times.
"I remember at the time there was a Zeiss expert there and I said, 'I'll be filming inside the eye'.
"And he turned around to the doctor and said, 'This bastard's crazy, he can't do that'.
"He walked out with egg on his face when he saw that I was filming inside the eye while the doctor was operating."
In cinematography and photography circles it is as an inventor that Jim is most famously known.
Doing something the CSIRO had said was impossible, he invented the Frazier Infinity Lens, which revolutionised the film industry. The lens allows a massive depth of field, meaning both the foreground and background could be in focus at the same time.
Hollywood picked it up and it was first used there in the blockbusters, Jurassic Park and Titanic.
His invention won him a Technical Oscar at the 1997 Academy Awards.
However, a court case over the patent for the lens was a dark period in Jim's life.
"I lost that case and got severely financially burnt. It was the lowest point in my life, to be honest," he said.
He has won many other national and international awards for his work, including an Emmy, three Golden Tripods, a US Industrial Film and Video Gold Camera Award, a Golden Panda, an honorary doctorate and a lifetime achievement award from the Australian Cinematographers' Society, where he is in the Hall of Fame.
In 1995 he was awarded a Medal of Order of Australia (OAM) for service to wildlife photography.
In October 1998, because of the invention and design of the Panavision/Frazier lens system, Jim was presented with the John Grierson international gold medal for pioneering work in micro/macro cinematography of invertebrate animals.
And, in 2016, Jim was a State finalist in the NSW Senior Australian of the Year Award.
A true renaissance man, Jim also was an artist and worked in a unique medium - crystals.
Jim painted by manipulating the growth of minute crystals, backlit with colour lighting and photographing them with a macro lens.
Pieces of his artwork are owned by such luminaries as Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton, and are featured in a range of silk scarves produced by Singapore designer, Ondina M for her 2013 MAH collection.
Jim has also produced two books.
Butterflies On My Mind, published in 2015, was created with the assistance with his lifelong friend and business partner, naturalist and author, Densey Cline.
Jim's autobiography, Through the Lens: a macro view of Jim Frazier, was published late last year.
For all that Jim achieved in his life, it was his work as an environmentalist that he considered the most important.
My first interview with Jim was about a project he believed was his life's purpose, Symphony of the Earth, an ambitious film project bringing together musicians of the world to produce music created out of the voices of creatures big and small, vertebrate and invertebrate.
Symphony of the Earth was to be Jim's attempt at a wake-up call to save the planet and it's wildlife; to alert people to the enormous rate of extinction humankind has brought about to other creatures that inhabit the planet, and the realities of climate change.
But the project will not die with Jim. He had previously handed the reigns over to a younger crew, who are working tirelessly on getting Symphony off the ground.
Jim was born on November 26, 1940 in Armidale and says he was 'in tune with all things natural' from as far back as he can remember.
"I can't begin to tell you just how I was associated with wildlife, because my dad was a butterfly collector, way back. As far back as I can remember I was in the bush with him," Jim told me the first time I interviewed him, in 2016.
His love affair with bugs and beasts began in his childhood, leading to his extraordinary career and gifting the world with so much beautiful imagery through his innovation, risk taking and audacious creativity.
Jim died on September 17, 2022, after a short period of illness. His death came only weeks after he and his partner, Helen sold their beloved property, Tanglewood, at Bootawa to downsize and move to Taree west. He didn't want to leave.
For those of us who knew him, we will never forget his passion, nor his delightful sense of humour.
Thank you Jim Frazier for gifting us with your presence on the planet. It was a true pleasure and honour to know you.
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