I know what your are saying “Finally another RAW interview”. This is the first in a flow of interviews coming in over the next few weeks. Todays interview is with Perth based commercial photographer Chris Bishop. I’m lucky enough to be shooting a Skate competition final with Chris in a few weeks. Something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now. Anyway lets get into it.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Chris Bishop and I’m a professional photographer based in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve been working as a commercial photographer for almost 15 years as well as being a qualified multimedia and graphic designer as well.
My working week is normally divided between commercial photography jobs and managing a small design studio with 6 designers across a range of advertising, design and Web development projects. It’s this diversity of work that really gets me out of bed reach morning (albeit with the help of good coffee) and makes me enjoy my life and career to the fullest.
On weekends you’ll normally find me hanging out with my wife and two beautiful children, often in Fremantle having a casual meal, coffee, or larger. I have also just started running some photography tours from Fremantle on Saturday mornings aimed at giving beginners some knowledge to expand their photographic horizons.
What made you get into photography?
I was given a Kodak instamatic camera as a 6 year old and remember taking it everywhere (as i did a lot of traveling as a child). In retrospect I think that was the start of my passion.
I think when i first exhibited at a 15 year old as part of a select group of high school photographers from different parts of Perth, I realised this could be my calling.
Once i finished school, there weren’t many other options. I’ve always been a very visual person and excelled at arts and sports throughout school, and struggled with any “meaningful” subjects. Once i realised I wouldn’t make it as a professional basketball or football player i switched all my attention to photography.
How did you get started?
After finishing school i studied the diploma of photography at TAFE (As well as a Diploma in Interactive Multimedia & Design) which gave me the solid grounding to launch a career from. But as any budding photographer will tell you, you never stop learning both creatively as well as technically. Technology is moving so fast you have no choice but to move with it, in a commercial sense.
After graduating these courses I initially assisted some of Perth’s leading photographers in commercial and fashion fields before spreading my wings and going out on my own.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
During the week, most of my work is commercial shoots for businesses that come through the design studio i manage. On any given day it can be portraits, real estate, commercial work of varying types.
Without a doubt my main passion is landscape and travel photography. I try and organise as many photography travel trips as i can, lately I’ve been focusing on South East Asia for its diversity, scenery and amazing people.
And if I’m at home, I try and get out as often as i can to shoot landscapes around the great state of Western Australia. You’ll also find me shooting sports as well on weekends. WAFL football and skateboarding competitions offer amazing opportunities for great sports photography.
What gear are you using?
I use a Canon 40D and a series of Sigma Pro-Series lenses. I also have a couple of Manfrotto tripods and a monopod for sports photography. From time to time I use a Canon 5D MK II if the shoot requires that extra resolution and quality.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
My favorite lens is definitely my Sigma 14mm F2.8 aspherical fish eye. The quality of this lens is amazing and well worth the investment. It’s great for landscapes and produces amazing photographs.
How are you marketing yourself?
I try to promote my website as much as i can. I’m constantly writing blogs and updating the site to maintain its SEO effectiveness. I love twitter as a marketing tool though i have a tendency to talk rubbish at times!
I also have a facebook page and i know its can be a valuable tool but i’m one of those rare people that hate facebook, so i know i don’t get the most out of it.
I have a flickr account that i try and mirror the content of my main website.
But as much as i love technology and how it makes the world smaller, the best way that i get business is still word of mouth and referrals.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
I tell myself that my favorite photo is the next one i take, to remind me to get out and shoot for the love of it. Sometimes you can get bogged down in commercial work that can be very safe and conservative and occasionally i need to remind myself of why i fell in love with photography in the first place.
But if i had to choose a favorite, today it would be the brother and sister from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Photos always mean more if you know the story behind them or dream of the story behind them. I won’t go into the story behind this photo but it was a very special moment for me that i recall every time i see it.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
It’s a little cliche, but keep shooting. There is no substitute for practice.
Also use the internet as the infinite resource that it is. I’m constantly searching for new places to shoot through sites like Flickr, new techniques in camera as well as post production in photoshop through tutorial sites and most of all just experimenting by myself.
A great method to start shooting more is to join or undertake a Photo 365 project. The idea is to post a new photo everyday for a year. You don’t need a fancy camera. Just a creative mind. There are several of these sites but one of the most popular is: http://365project.org/