Robert McClintock was born in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1958, the son of a hairdresser, actor, artist, musician, singer, dancer father and an Arthur Murray dancer, fashionista mother from Brooklyn, NY. His parents met in New York City and moved to Vermont in 1954. He grew up in Wilmington, Vermont not far from the Mt Snow Ski Area where skiing was second nature to him.
He was always attracted to the arts and especially photography, his grandfather was a serious amateur photographer in New York City and two of his aunts were fashion photo stylists in Manhattan in the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Every summer he would go to New York and hang around at the studios of big time fashion photographers Jon Abbott and Ray Kellman loading their Hasselblads and gratefully assisting the ladies underwear photo shoots for Sears and Macy’s Catalogs.
RIGHT: Robert’s short lived career in modeling on Ellis Island 1964. Somebody stuck a Brownie in his hand as a prop and it all came together. He discovered he was on the wrong side of the camera! (Photo by Jon Abbott for Sears & Roebuck, unknown female super model named Claudia)
Robert actually got his first paying “commercial” gig shooting head shots for a theater company at the age of 16 and never looked back.
He grew up in Wilmington, Vermont but graduated from Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vt then briefly went to the University of Vermont where everyone thought he’d enroll in medical school, but after one year of the college party scene he dropped out and hit the road and worked in the restaurant business as a waiter and bartender for the next 15 years. Robert lived in Denver, Colorado for 8 years, where he had his first warehouse studio. He became a spray paint artist but soon discovered manipulated Polaroid Art in 1978, he tried living in Los Angeles for a quick year then went back to Denver and finally returned to Vermont after his father’s death in 1985 . After 15 years working in the restaurant business he cleaned up his act and left it behind in 1988. He knew he could make a living in the arts and declared himself a “professional” photographer, he printed business cards and opened a small studio in Brattleboro, Vermont which proved very successful and provided on the job training. He “specialized ” in whatever the next phone call asked for and photographed numerous babies, bands, headshots, family portraits and over 100 weddings. Eventually Robert evolved into studio work in which he quickly proved his ability, working for over 12 years in advertising and editorial work in the northeast and eventually in Washington DC and Baltimore.
He has always had a strong inclination towards the fine arts and is entirely self-taught. Both parents were very supportive. Starting 1978 while in Denver, McClintock’s art work mainly consisted of manipulated and hand colored SX-70 Polaroid illustrations which eventually appeared in many national and regional magazines as well as galleries and shows in the U.S. In 1992, his work was accepted into the prestigious International Polaroid Collection, a touring exhibit which features artists who use Polaroid products.
Currently his Polaroids are appearing at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and Boston’s Photographic Resource Center (PRC) in the American Perspectives Exhibit.
As digital photography emerged as a new medium, McClintock became interested early on. He purchased his first digital camera (an Apple Quicktake 100) in 1996 and quickly got to work. He immediately enjoyed the truly instant gratification and spontaneity while shooting. Over the years he has shot with Nikon cameras, from the Coolpix 990, 995, the D100, D70 and currently the Nikon D200, D300.
He has shot over 50,000 digital pictures and created over 500 “Photo-Digital Illustrations” wherein he paints and colors directly onto his photographs in Adobe Photoshop on Apple computers using a Wacom Tablet. Robert is adamant that his work is not computer generated and NO stock photoshop filters are used! His experience with Photoshop was not extensive but he learned quickly while freelancing at a busy digital photo studio in Baltimore and after many hours of experimenting at the computer he developed his distinct and new style wherein each image is worked over by hand inch by inch as a traditional painter would do. His strong composition skills learned as a commercial photographer go a long way in making a great image.
In 1999 he began selling his work at many local outdoor street fairs and festivals including Baltimore’s Artscape and The Fells Point Festival, as a money making venture and somewhat as a market test to see how the work would be received by the public.
His success in capturing what the people wanted led in November of 2002 to his opening a studio and gallery in Baltimore’s historic Federal Hill at 50 East Cross Street featuring over 150 images from his “Baltimore Seen Collection” plus his unique Cat and Dog images.
The retail gallery proved to be a success and led to an expansion to a second space on Charles Street. He kept the Cross Street gallery open as the “showroom” and the Charles St address turned into his working studio and production space.
As Robert’s collection grew and with the new addition of large canvas pieces he again needed more space. Federal Hill was a great location but he really needed to consolidate the two locations and also expand.
After a short search he found a great new location in Fell’s Point on the waterfront which was actually 10 times larger than the two Federal Hill locations. In April of 2006 he opened the new space at 1809 Thames Street near the Anne St wharf. The new space has proven to be a great move and has introduced his work to a much wider audience both locally and to tourists visiting Baltimore from all over the world.
Robert lives with his wife Sue, their 3 cats, and their pit mix, Super Lou, in Baltimore’s eclectic Charles Village.