Roddy MacInnes

Associate Professor


What I do

Associate Professor, (Photography) School of Art and Art History, University of Denver.


Photography, Autobiographical Photography, Aging, History of Photography, Visual Anthropology, Construction of Identity, Photography and Incarceration.

Professional Biography

Roddy MacInnes has been teaching photography at the University of Denver since 2001. He considers himself to be an autobiographical photographer, and in that capacity, has been documenting his life through photography for over five decades. He received an MFA in photography from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a BA in photography from Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh. His latest community engaged photography projects were inspired by an album of photographs he discovered in an antiques mall in Denver, Colorado. A North Dakota woman made the photographs in 1917. Through these projects Roddy explores issues surrounding the relationships between family photography and the construction of identity.


  • MFA, Photography and Electronic Media., University of Colorado, 1998
  • BA, Photographic Studies, Napier University, 1991

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Assessment Associate Program

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Photographic Education


How family photography functions in the construction of identity. Currently working on a long-term project using family photographs as catalysts for revealing life stories.

Key Projects

  • AHSS-'15-16 CAMF-MacInnes


50 Year Journey With Photography
  • Isle of Luing, Scotland
Personal Histories of Photography


Personal Histories of Photography
Roddy MacInnes
March 16 - April 29, 2019

If your house caught fire and you could only bring one photograph when escaping, which one would it be?

We seldom think about why we take photographs. The vast majority are taken to preserve positive memories, most often of significant people or life events. With that in mind, this project highlights the intimate association that exists between photography and remembrance, more specifically, how family photographs function to preserve memories and thus become catalysts to relate life stories. Participants are asked to choose one significant photograph, the one they would bring with them when fleeing a burning building. The documentation process includes making a portrait of each person holding his or her significant photograph and the transcription of the associated story. In this process, common themes existing within the record of family photographs emerge. And, regardless of cultural background or ethnicity, the majority of people choose a photograph of a significant person or place.

  • Parker, Colorado
Letters to Photographs

Letters to Photographs: community project
This exhibition is an intergenerational community project completed by 70 participants that include Homestead Elementary School students, Legend High School students, University of Denver students, Belmar Senior Living and Kavod Senior Life residents, all of whom were invited to identify one family photograph that holds significance to them. Each person was then asked to write a letter to the photograph.

  • Parker, Colorado
Two-Way Mirror, Portraits and Self-Portraits

"Two-Way Mirror, Portraits and Self-Portraits"

The photographic adventure began in 1965. I was raised in the country, most of my relatives lived in the city. When they’d come to visit, photographs were taken of things they wanted to remember. In my subconscious, the connection was established that photography celebrates life. One of the visiting relatives gave me a camera. My very first photograph was of Catriona, the girl next door. I photographed her and then she photographed me. I made my first self-portrait in 1969 while hitchhiking around Ireland with my friend Mike. I photographed our reflection in a mirror. We were objects, not subjects.

I left school at an early age. I went traveling. I photographed my travels. Occasionally I put myself in the picture, as if to provide evidence of my existence. I photographed people. I photographed relationships over time. This exhibition celebrates evidence of my existence, along with extended documentation of three significant relationships. Some of the people are gone and some remain.

The adventure was not always optimistic. I experienced a mid-life period of depression. I used photography as therapy. I explored the “Looking Glass Theory”. We understand who we are from the reactions of other people towards us. I came to appreciate that if I need another person to help me understand who I am, then, when I look at another person, I’m also looking at myself. After that epiphany, every photograph became a self-portrait. I was always in the picture. I always had been. Me object, I subject. I still don’t really understand the impulse to create a photographic record. I’m thankful I have one though.

Roddy MacInnes

Patsy and Peter (my mother and father)

I broke my mother’s heart when I left home to join the Royal Navy in 1969. I tried to make up for it. I subsequently moved to North America. In 1977, I met my parents in New York. I drove them to Florida and back. I thought the obligation was over. However, they were hooked. They made 15 more trips together to the States. We had great fun. They loved everything. My father said he felt like he was on a magic carpet. I remember saying, if anything ever happened to us, it was okay, because we were having such rich experiences together now. During those great adventures we were living life to the fullest, in the moment and filled with love. My father died in 1997. My mother made several more trips to the States before she died in 2002. I’m still riding the magic carpet.


I was transferred from Canada to Denver in 1981. That’s when I met John. He was an eccentric and brilliant Scottish geologist. We shared many adventures traveling around the Western United States. He was one of the most colorful characters I’ve had the good fortune to call friend. “Let the cares of tomorrow wait until this day is done”. That was on a note he left attached to my motel room door in Baker City, Oregon. I still have that note, and many others. The course of my life was positively influenced because I knew John. He had that effect on many people. Since 1981, John’s family has been my family. John died in 2007. I still talk to him. I’m still working on disregarding the cares of tomorrow.


I met Andrea in 1996 while attending graduate school at CU Boulder. We had a relationship for a couple of years. Andrea moved on. It was my last intimate relationship. We are still best friends. Andrea got married. She gave birth to Beau in 2005. Beau is now one of the most significant characters in my life. After wandering for many years, I have settled. Settled physically, not necessarily psychologically. My circle of friends includes, Mia, Gerald, Nicolai Cori and Matea. Nicolai and Beau are best friends. I have the great honor of being their uncle. This selection of photographs represents my present and my future. The other three sets of photographs, my past. Soon, it will all be in the past. All the more reason to be present, now.

  • Denver, Colorado, USA

RedLine is excited to host the 20th Anniversary Exhibitions of Artnauts, an art collective that has enlisted over 300 artists to serve as goodwill ambassadors who acknowledge and support victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions on five continents. Founder, Dr. George Rivera, explains, “As long as inhumanity exists throughout the world, the Artnauts will not cease to try to change the world through the power of art.”

  • Denver, Colorado


  • "Family Album" book event
  • "Igloo/Pistol Bay, Mining Personal History"
  • Book Event: Family Album
  • Book Event: Family Album
  • Photography and Compassionate Responsiveness


  • Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Denver