Ben’s another local photographer here in Perth, focusing on the fashion and advertising genre’s. If you’ve heard the name before you might remember this post from a few weeks ago. After posting that video we got talking and it was only a matter of time till I got him to answer a few questions. Enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a Fashion and advertising photographer from Perth. Id say I started my career about 3 years ago. I studied photography at Tafe for one year, however as I am sure many of you know, it was not all that helpful.
What made you get into photography?
Funny story really, in high school I was mostly just cruising through and then decided one day I want to be the best in at least one class. I decided it was going to be photography and i then fell in love with what I was doing, what I could do and fell in love with the fact that I would never know everything there is to know but could have a lot of fun trying.
How did you get started?
My dad as most dads did had a reasonably good camera kit. He had a Nikon F3 kit, which was amazing to learn with. I ended up saving all my money and getting a Nikon D200, which allowed me to use all those great lenses. When I was in my final year of high school I started work experience/ assisting Chris Huzzard, which taught me so much. Working at his studio made me realize how much was possible to lean about the industry and that working in fashion you get the chance to be at the cutting edge of technique.
I struggled to acquire the information and techniques I needed in my chosen field of photography at tafe; if you speak to some of the older photographers who went in the late 90s they all tell me it was amazing, but I found it dated.
I was there for the first year and when handing in my portfolio to pass I was told many of the photos I had submitted would be unacceptable in a commercial medium.
The photos they referred to were fashion and where ‘inspired’ by the European fashion mags, I was essentially emulating what some of the biggest photographers in the world were doing. I felt I was being discouraged from pursing the most up to date trends, so I left.
I guess I really got started by actually doing it, actually taking photos and assisting as much as I could.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I mostly shoot people, mostly in advertising and fashion, however I have shot in most of the genres, how successful I was, well that’s a story for another time ha ha.
Know that if you are going into fashion, you will be in the most competitive industry in the world.
What gear are you using?
As I said before, Nikon, however I currently have the ever so popular Canon 5D MKII, which is great, being able to push the iso that high makes a lot of less than desirable situations workable. I am thinking about going medium format, thinking about the phase one and one of their impressive new backs.
Whats your favorite lens and why?
I am a fan of the 85mm f1.2, when you use one you will understand why.
How are you marketing yourself?
When I was fairly fresh in the industry I contra’d some design work and had a logo made, that logo being on all the photos on line has made my brand name really strong. It has put me in good positions at the negotiation table. When I hand people my card they always say ‘I have seen your work every where’.
But most of my business comes from word of mouth and meeting new clients. Face book is defiantly important, but more so to make your brand name and network strong.
Whats your favorite photo you have taken?
This is a shot from an editorial I shot in summer. This is up the top with my favorites because its exactly how I look to shoot, heaps going on, bright, weird colours that some how all work.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Assist any one you can, even if its not paid, you need to learn from as many photographers as possible.
Networking is hugely important in fashion. You get work based on your reputation, so the more people you work with and interact with, the more work you get. That’s why facebook is HUGE in fashion, because it’s the perfect forum to get your name out there, so people are hearing about you and seeing your work as well. Without a facebook profile, you simply can’t even get off the ground in fashion these days.
On my first day of assisting one of the first pieces of advice I was given was this. 2% of photography is pressing a button.
When you get into the fashion industry that’s how it is, you are at the cutting edge of lighting technique, set design, hair make up. What’s in Paris vogue today is what wedding, portrait, nude etc photographers are doing in 10 years.
Charging the right amount! I still get lectured from the ‘vetren’ photographers when I charge to little for a shoot.
The cheaper the industry becomes the harder it is when you are a pro, to make a living.
Professionalism is so important, even if its your first shoot ever.
Professional courtesies, a main one is, don’t talk about other photographers to people, don’t bag out other photographers to potential clients, it won’t get you work.
Especially don’t talk about people in the industry negatively on twitter or fb, it will come back around and bite you in the ass. Being a positive person is a big plus, because that’s the sort of energy people want in the room on their shoots, someone that brings a great vibe, not someone that’s a drag to be around.
To make it in the industry no matter what genre you must be persistent, really want to assist a photographer text and email them every week reminding them. Really want to work with a certain designer, same thing.
I was almost going to shooting Jennifer Coolidge (Stiflers mum) because I tweeted and emailed her every second day for 2 weeks.
Another thing not to do is ’try’ and maintain a day job. It’s hard to have a photography career and a part time job. A lot of opportunities will be missed and I know a few photographers who are ‘spinning’ their wheels in the industry.
Find a great team to work with, a great stylist and great hair and make up, people you want to work with all the time.
The most important advice I can give you is, never stop learning, you will never know every thing about photography, when you think you do, become a teacher or retire.