There has always been a thread of art and photography throughout James Ritchie's life. When he was very young, his toy of choice was paper and anything he could use to draw on it. Later in childhood, he practically lived in the town library during the summers immersed in cartoon and art books. (Andrew Wyeth was - and still is - an all time favorite artist.)
His father had a fully-equipped 4x5 Crown Graphic camera which dazzled him. But sadly, his father had to sell the camera before he was old enough to learn how to use it. There was, though, an old Kodak bellows camera (and later a Kodak Brownie and Instamatic) that he frequently used for snapshots of parents, relatives and friends, and even his pet alligator.
In high school he took (and Aced) the only two general art classes offered. He doodled on everything, and diligently tried to copy the work of his MAD Magazine art heroes Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Frank Kelly Freas, Wallace Wood, and the guaranteed-to-put-him-in-stitches, Don Martin, along with so many more from the 1960s like Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.
A year after high school, he vowed to do anything to avoid being drafted, so he enlisted in the Navy for four years. It was then that he made his first investment in more serious photographic equipment. While at sea he was able to buy, even on a Seaman Apprentice's pay, the then-prestigious Nikon-F 35mm camera, and assorted Nikkor lenses at bargain prices in the ship's store, Japan, and SE Asia.
After his enlistment, art and photography took a back seat to the realities of adult life for the next several decades. Drawing fell by the wayside, but at one point he took some night courses in graphics and advertising design at a community college.
He continued to shoot, but usually only at family gatherings, and occasionally on weekend excursions to the zoo, or to chase trains. It wasn't until after he retired that he was able to devote himself to more serious photography. Mr. Ritchie has since taught himself photography on the fly, and progressed from snapshooting to pursuing it as art.
During the last decade, Mr. Ritchie's art has become increasingly popular and is exhibited regionally and nationally. His award-winning work is enjoyed by an international audience, and is owned by a growing number of corporate, commercial, and private collectors.