ALF Manciagli says his Order of Australia Medal is proof a migrant can come to Australia and make an impression.
Mr Manciagli received the honour as part of the Queen's Birthday awards for services to photography.
"I was a bit shocked, I didn't expect to receive an award for something I actually love doing," he said.
Born in Italy, Mr Manciagli's father migrated to Australia in the aftermath of World War II.
"Our house had been blown up by the English and the Americans," he said.
He followed his father in 1959 as a 14-year-old, but returned to Italy three years later, saying, "it was hard for newcomers then, especially people with black hair".
Passing over a military career to pursue camerawork and the chance to travel, he attended the New York Institute of Photography.
Mr Manciagli worked as a medical photographer at the Rockefeller Institute after he graduated and then spent five years as a correspondent, travelling with journalists all over the world in often wartorn circumstances.
You have to show the humanity of what goes on.Photographer Alf Manciagli
On one occasion in Yemen, he witnessed British soldiers beating up a Yemeni national before they were caught in a bomb blast.
"They had jumped in a Landrover and they had been blown to bits," he said
On another occasion, he was in Israel and felt a sharp object on his shoulder.
"It was a soldier with a bayonnet on my back telling me, 'no photo'," he said.
But with demand for those stories falling as newspapers increasing turned to tabloid style, he decided to return to Australia where he opened his own photography school in Sydney.
In 1976, he relocated to Orange and started Gecko Photographics.
Working mostly commercial photography, Mr Manciagli did a lot of work in underground mines during the days of film.
"There were only two or three people in Australia who could work underground," he said.
He said much of the job was knowing film well - which jobs different films were best for and their pitfalls - and how to use light.
"It's harder to make a living in photography now because everybody's taking pictures, but a good quality photograph hasn't changed - you need someone with a good eye and technical skills," he said.
He has also contributed voluntarily to OCTEC and co-developed a number of books including Great Houses of Australia, 50 homes with a story to tell, This is Where we Live, The colours of Orange and There's some bloody funny people on the road to Broken Hill.
He said an image could change the world if it showed a true story.
"You have to show the humanity of what goes on."
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