The Border has lost one of the great talents in Australian stock photography with Thurgoona's Max Stephens passing away.
Mr Stephens, aged 87, was renowned across the country as a photographer with an eye for detail and desire for perfection.
But to family and friends he was much more than that.
Mr Stephens' son Brett, who lives in Hobart working as a community nurse, said his father loved life on the Border after moving to Albury in the late 1960s.
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"The GP was just amazed that he was still going with all of the health troubles and organs that weren't working very well," he said.
"That was that strength of character that he had.
"He was having a game of 500 at the dining table. on Friday afternoon and he passed on Saturday evening."
Brett said his father's independent nature was rounded out by his desire to help people.
"I was just taking stock of the people who were approaching us with their condolences and there seems to be a theme of people who love to help other people in various ways," he said.
"They're the people that gravitated to him and that he gravitated towards."
Mr Stephens started his professional career as a cadet photographer for The Melbourne Argus in 1949 and his flair for stud stock photography would take him to Farm and Home magazine and later Pastoral Review.
He would then make the decision to go freelance with his stock photography, something people around him cautioned him against.
"Everybody told him he was crazy to go off and be a freelance livestock photographer, I mean who has ever heard of such a thing?" Brett said.
"To my knowledge he was the only freelance livestock photographer in Australia.
"He was a bit of a perfectionist as well, the owners weren't getting some hack job photos.
"He understood what the owners of those prized animals were wanting to see and definitely delivered that to them."
Culcairn's John Godde saw Mr Stephens working first hand on his property 'Glenelg'.
"As a livestock photographer he had no peer, he was ahead of the field," he said.
"He was an amazing man with amazing patience and just knew when to snap the picture.
"Nothing ever flustered Max, he was always cool and collected and did the best job anybody could have ever done.
"The bulls used to get very sick of it, the grooms would get sick of it and the owners would get flustered but it never bothered him."
Mr Godde said Mr Stephens would always carry around tape recorder, which he used to help get the best shot possible of the prized stock.
"He always carried a cassette recording which he took into sale yards and recorded the cattle," he said.
"When the bull was in the right position and Max was happy with it and ready to shoot, he'd turn the cassette on and the cattle would start bellowing and the bull's ears would go forward and the head would come up.
"It always worked, it was on one his little trade secrets."
Mr Godde's sister, Kerryn McLeish, remembered Max as a true gentleman.
She reconnected with him later in life at Kensington Gardens in Thurgoona where he became the "unofficial mayor".
"We caught up in 2017 here in Kensington," she said.
"We were welcomed one night and Max heard my mother's name.
"I see mum in the middle of the room giving Max a kiss and I thought 'she's gotten lucky early in our stay'.
"He just loved seeing mum again and having our reconnection over the last four years.
"Everybody loved him, the bar staff loved him, the people loved him."
Peter Sutherland had known Mr Stephens since he was young and spoke of the effort he would put in for royal shows across the country.
"One thing that was outstanding about Max is that for the royal shows he would bring his caravan into the showgrounds," Mr Sutherland said.
"He'd take all the photos during the day and stay there until 1am processing the photos so he could hand them out at 8am that day.
"That was a huge service, that was nothing that had been heard of before, it was an immense job."
Throughout his life Mr Stephens also had a passion for yachts and was an active member of the Albury-Wodonga Yacht Club.
Mr Stephens passed away last weekend.
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