Todays interview is with a fellow Perth photographer, who is lucky enough not to be trying to earn a living in the most isolated city in the world. Apart from that he takes some amazing photos and has an interesting story about quoting.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Currently a motion-graphics designer & compositor specialising in 3D cinema commercials. Before that I was visual effects supervisor at a 3D R&D firm in Bentley whose technology is currently found in many 3D hardware devices (tv, phone, laptop, etc). In between I took a working holiday managing a gym.
What made you get into photography?
I got into photography obliquely about ten years ago. I was a CG animator at the time and rather than rely on procedural textures for the objects I was animating, I wanted to use the real thing. If I had to model and animate a limestone wall, I wanted to shoot an actual wall and use that as the surface of the computer model. So I’d wander around Fremantle with a god-awful 1.2 megapixel Olympus – it was 2001 – snapping away at anything I thought might be useful down the track.
Fast-forward several years: my interest in CG animation is almost nonexistent; my interest in photography, quite the opposite.
How did you get started?
Around 2007, one of the gyms I worked at needed before-and-after shots of members doing a 12-week challenge. Pretty mindless stuff, but it prodded something inside me that still remembered how much fun photography had been. I bought a compact, outgrew it, upgraded to another (worse) compact, then bit the bullet with an entry-level dSLR.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
That’s a difficult question to answer: there are three. I carry a camera everywhere I go and so I tend to photograph my meanderings on a daily basis. Whatever catches my eye: people, architecture, objects, whatever. A walk isn’t just a walk, it’s an exercise in finding something to shoot, or finding a way to shoot something I see all the time. Keeps my brain ticking over.
The commercial photography I do – more a thing on the side that supports my habit rather than a regular income – is usually of business owners, staff, their places of business, objects they sell or serve with. There’s a DJ who regularly brings me in to shoot his gigs. Occasionally I get to have some fun with portraits, the most recent being of Pro Wrestler Adrian Priest (see attached image).
The personal work is usually a little surreal. It could be a serious (for me) commentary on an issue or just something with a bunch of layers of meaning that gelled in my head and which I had to photograph. Or completely frivolous and just look nice.
What gear are you using?
I always have my Voigtlander Bessa I on me (my daily meanderings), loaded with Shangahi GP3. For commercial work, nothing more than an Olympus E620. My personal stuff is usually with a Mamiya RB67 ProSD. Lights are all fairly generic Chinese stuff: Phoshot strobes, Cactus flashes, Yongnuo triggers, Jinbei stands and modifiers.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
Tough decision. I’d have to split it between the 65mm Sekor for the Mamiya C330 (razor sharp and wide without seeming to be wide) and the 127mm KL for the Mamiya RB67 (magnificent all round lens for everything from closeup work to landscape).
How are you marketing yourself?
I’m fortunate in that I’m not trying to earn a living through photography. I couldn’t imagine doing so in a market as small as Perth. Clients who find me generally do so initially through my being recommended by other clients, then checking out images on my website.
What’s your favourite photo you have taken?
My favourite photos are the ones I haven’t taken yet. Between my head and the photograph, this nasty thing called reality – production budgets, my own ability, availability of talent & crew, and so on – intrudes. But I’m pleased with how Adrian’s promo portrait turned out. His brief was simple: make me a movie poster.
One of my favourite personal ones would have to be Mother’s Love. Massive effort by Alannah Etteridge (model), who was freezing pretty much naked most of the time, and Krystal Okeley (hair, makeup, costume, and nest-builder), an Jo (partner and Guardian of Uprightness of an 86″ umbrella). Shot on Portra 160NC with the RB67 (127mm), it turned out exactly as I’d envisioned.
I also like Lord of the Bloons for it’s whimsy.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Ask your client (or prospective client) questions. The first and most important is what budget they working on. Never be afraid to ask. Then find out what the shots are for, what feeling they want to convey and by whom, and if they’ve seen examples of photography they admire. That’ll give you a fairly good idea of what they want. They’re buying confidence when they buy you, confidence that you’ll get the job done properly, so never undersell yourself.
I once quoted low for a job that promoted a cause for which I had a strong personal conviction. I really wanted to do them a favour. The client asked me to resubmit it at twice the original amount before passing it up the chain. I got the job and it was the last time I ever low-balled a quote.