If you ask most of us what you do for a living, we can usually sum it up in just a few words, for Richard Simpkin it may be a few sentences.
Photographer, author, artist, creator of the world’s first celebrity selfie exhibition and founder of World Letter Writing Day to mention just a few of the things that Richard could have on his C.V. Well, if he had one!

“As a child I felt a little different to most children as I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was four and a half. In my early teens a Dr told me that I may not live past the age of twenty-one, I thought well if that’s the case I never want my life to be boring”.
When Richard was sixteen, he found out that INXS were recording an album at their Sydney studio. “I went to the studio, and I met Michael Hutchence, he was incredibly kind and introduced me to the rest of INXS. I started to hang out with the band and became friends with them. Michael was dating Kylie Minogue and I got introduced to the world of celebrity”.

In 1995 Richard had an idea that he wanted to meet, photograph and interview as many Australian legends as he could, with the aim of getting his work published into a book.
That year Richard wrote a letter to Sir Donald Bradman asking to meet him, a few weeks later Richard was sitting with Sir Donald at his home in Adelaide.

“It was incredible, Sir Donald was and still is one of my idols and there I was sitting next to him on the steps at the front of his house in Adelaide”.

Richard spent nine years meeting eighty legends and in 2005 his first book titled Australian Legends was released.

“It was incredible spending time with the likes of Sir Donald, Dame Joan Sutherland, Frank Lowy, Dawn Fraser and the last of our WWI Diggers, their stories were truly inspiring”.

Richard wrote to each legend requesting their time for an interview and photoshoot and nine times out of ten he received a letter back with an invitation to meet them.

“I knew I was contacting people that had come from a time where letter writing was in some cases the only way people could communicate with one another. There was no point trying to send an email to a World War One Veteran when they didn’t have a computer. I realised the power of a handwritten letter”.

Four more books followed: Richard and Famous, 100 Australian Legends, Michael In Pictures (Michael Hutchence) and Richard Simpkin’s Celebrity Quotes.
In 2012 Richard’s son Oliver was born and the following year he retired from photography.

“I’d spent my life travelling the world and my exhibition titled: Richard & Famous, which documented my life with celebrities over twenty-five consecutive years with the likes of Brad Pitt, Audrey Hepburn, The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry U2 and Oprah was now travelling to galleries and photo festivals globally”.

In 2014 Richard founded World Letter Writing Day at his former school in Sydney and since then he has been visiting schools conducting letter writing workshops.

“I encourage children to take a break from social media and reconnect with family and friends with a handwritten letter. Many of the children write thank you letters to their parents, it’s such a special moment when their parents open the letter”.

In late 2020 Richard’s son Oliver was reading his dad’s 100 Australia legends book. Oliver asked why his dad didn’t have legends books for kids. Inspired by Oliver’s question, Richard wanted to teach children about Australian’s that had a dream when they were children and believed in themselves to achieve their dreams.

In December 2021 Richard’s Aussie Big Achievers series of books about Ash Barty, Cathy Freeman and Steve Irwin were released.

“I chose Ash because I saw how excited my son was when she won Wimbledon last year and we are all inspired by Ash’s recent win at the Australian Open. Cathy inspired me when she won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Steve has inspired millions of people around the world to not only look after all animals but to also look after the environment”

The Aussie Big Achievers books and are a fun and educational way for children to learn about some of Australia’s most interesting and inspiring people that have helped shape our nation. Each book encourages children to always believe in themselves and never give up on their dreams.

For more information on the Aussie Big Achievers books please visit Boolarong Press.

This article is shared and powered by mom.Connect

  • Wow! What an inspiration! Being told you may not live past your 20s so living life to it’s fullest! Not by doing stupid things that could end your life quickly. I love those who make the most of life.


  • What a great personal story and great idea to capture stories of inspirational legends around the world.


  • Wow how talented!


  • Such great role models for our young Aussies.


  • This is such a good story, I wish I had that talent!


  • We have wonderful Australian role models. I am in awe of Ash Bartey. She is amazing. Great work Richard Simpkin.


  • I’m so glad he decided he wanted to do something he was passionate about and live life to the fullest. I know it would have been hard living a life thinking it was going to be cut short by 21 but he made it!


  • Very inspirational story to reach for the stars


  • Such a inspirational story about pursuing your dream


  • It would have been hard to choose between so many great Australians who have inspired many of us, but you have chosen three of the best.
    My girls love listening and reading stories just like these…these ones are now at the top of my reading list!

    • I’m so glad that these books can inspire kids, including my own to dream big & achieve their own dreams. Thanks for your kind words.


  • Thank you everyone for taking the time to read my story & post a comment.
    I’ve read them ALL & have replied.
    The link to buy the books is at the bottom of the story.
    I hope the books are enjoyed & inspire kids to believe in themselves & achieve their very own dreams.
    My son inspired me to write these Aussie Big Achievers books. It’s incredible how our children inspire us to be better people.
    Dream Big & Happy Reading.
    Kindest wishes,
    Richard Simpkin.


  • I love this story! What an incredible life he’s had being able to document the lives of people like Sir Donald Bradman!

    • Thank you ????
      It was incredible meeting Sir Donald at his house in 1995 & 96.
      Richard Simpkin.


  • I like the letter writing initiative, and it would be inspiring to meet so many high profile people and get to know them a little better. What a great job he has.

    • Thanks, I enjoy teaching kids about writing letters. Appreciate your comment.


  • Great achievements


  • Oh wow what a amazing human.

    • Thanks, that’s kind of you to say.


Post a comment
Like Facebook page

LIKE MoM on Facebook

Add a photo
Your MoM account

Lost your password?

Enter your email and a password below to post your comment and join MoM:

You May Like


Looks like this may be blocked by your browser or content filtering.

↥ Back to top

Thanks For Your Star Rating!

Would you like to add a written rating or just a star rating?

Write A Rating Just A Star Rating