In 1969, after amateur activities, Dick Arentz began three years of study with Phil Davis of the Photography Department at the University of Michigan. His interest at that time was in the large format silver contact print. As an informal “thesis,” he produced the Death Valley Portfolio in 1972. That was reproduced in a 1973 issue of Camera Magazine.
After a sabbatical in Europe in 1973, Dick Arentz relocated in Flagstaff, Arizona where he taught studio and photographic history at Northern Arizona University. In 1978, He was selected by the Arts and Humanities Commission as one of Twenty Arizona Artists. That year he began a six-year project which was to be published as Four Corners Country in 1986, partly subsidized by an Edna Rider Whiteman Foundation Grant. The book was reissued in soft cover in 1994.
He returned to Ann Arbor in 1980 to study the platinum process with Phil Davis. Because of the lack of published information and the unpredictability of materials, he began researching and writing about platinum and palladium techniques. In 1983, he began to produce negatives with an antique 12×20 Folmer and Schwing Camera.
By 1985, major museums and corporations began to collect his work. In 1987, he produced The American Southwest, a limited edition portfolio of 12×20 platinum prints with an essay by James Enyeart.
In 1988, desirous of a change in subject matter, Arentz accepted an Isaac W. Bernheim Fellowship to live and work in Kentucky. He began a three-year project photographing the Midsouthern states and Appalachia, concentrating on the human effect of the landscape. In 1990, under the sponsorship of The Huntington Museum of Art, an exhibition and catalogue of that work, Outside The Mainstream, with an introduction by Merry Foresta, was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 1990, Dick Arentz was one of four Arizona artists selected for the Phoenix Art Museum Triennial Exhibition. In 1992, he was included in Between Home And Heaven, Contemporary American Landscape Photographers, National Museum of American Art. In England, During 1994-95, Arentz exhibited at the Fox-Talbot Museum and A Positive View at the Saatchi Gallery, in London. In 1996, he accepted a fellowship from The Columbus Art Museum to create a portfolio of central Ohio.
In 1998, Nazraeli Press published a collection of his work from continental Europe, The Grand Tour, with an essay by Tom Southall. Another book from Nazraeli Press, The British Isles was published in 2001.
Arentz continue to publish and teach the techniques of platinum and palladium printing. As a result of his research, he was able to solve a problem that has plagued non-silver printers for years with the formulation of specifications to allow a major paper company to manufacture a paper suitable for these photographic processes. In 2000, he published the 1st edition of Platinum & Palladium Printing with Focal Press. In 2005, following research into the specific uses of sodium chloroplatinate (Na2) as a contrast control agent, Platinum & Palladium Printing was revised for a 2nd edition.
In a fifty-year career, Dick Arentz has had over seventy-five one-man exhibits in museums and private galleries. Since 1984 has conducted over forty platinum printing workshops, included those at The Center for Creative Photography, The Museum of Photographic Arts and The Friends of Photography. In 2013 Dick received the Phoenix Art Museum Infocus Founders Award for contributions to photography.
In 2000, having spent 35 years exposing film through the bellows of large format view cameras, Dick began to use the latest digital technology. In 2010 with the publication of Italy Through Another Lens Dick has moved to a new phase of his career. Dick now spends a good portion of each year photographing in Europe. He worked in Scotland from 2005 to 2014 and in the Venetia from 2009 to 2013. These images can be seen in Piezography. Starting in 2017, Dick has concentrated on photographing the interiors of English cathedrals, using a historic Leica lens.