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DEATH OF RODNEY BATHFIELD (article first published : 2006-05-27)

Award-winning wedding photographer Rodney Bathfield died in Durban on May 6 at the age of 54 after a two year struggle with motor neuron disease, which is the fatal form of multiple sclerosis.

A member of many clubs and societies, including The Ships Society, Theosophical Society and the Shakespeare Society, he studied drama under Professor Elizabeth Sneddon at the University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal) and was an accomplished mimic and impersonator.

After leaving university, Rodney studied photography at Technikon Natal (now Durban University of Technology) and then started his career as a freelance photographer. His early work involved covering the Durban cabaret circuit before he moved on to functions and then weddings. He also handled commercial work for brochures and had his own portrait studio. In his last year, he began to work on landscape photography.

“Rod was an eclectic personality and an active member of the Durban social scene,” says close friend and film-maker Mikhail Peppas who has known him since their schooldays at Marist Brothers St Henry’s and as well as their university years, where they studied in the same department. “He loved adventure, but was also a deeply philosophical thinker. He always had a twinkle in his eye and had a great sense of humour. The dinner party circuit will miss his lively conversation and extensive knowledge of widely different topics.

“He was a keen Latin American and ballroom dancer. He will also be remembered for his flamboyant rendition of Zorba’s Dance that always brought the house down at many functions.

“He was very kind-hearted and was always ready to help the family with funeral arrangements when friends died,” Mikhail adds. “He also made an effort to remember the anniversaries of the deaths of those who had gone before him and would round up friends to commemorate the event with candles, flowers and poetry at the graveside.”

It is ironic that Rodney Bathfield’s last photographic work focused on sunsets in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. His early passing is a sad loss to the photographic and cultural scene in Durban.




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