This interview has been about 2 years in the making. Jarrad’s schedule is pretty hectic but finally this Christmas he managed to sit down and get through it all. Enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a 25-year-old photographer based in Perth, though I try to work outside of my home city as much as I can. I’m probably best known for my work with musicians like Passenger, who I’ve toured with a few times over the years. Apart from that I love travelling and meeting all sorts of weird and wonderful people through my photography.
What inspired you to get into photography?
I started off being involved in music journalism side of things. I’d be reviewing shows and seeing the same guys at each concert getting right up in the musician’s grills at the front of the stage and think to myself, “Man, that guy has such a cooler job than me”. As I sat at the back with my notepad. Major job envy!
Are you self-taught or did you study photography?
Self taught. I learned and developed my style mostly through shooting concerts and playing around with friends at college. Honestly though, there’s a whole bunch of basic things that I just don’t know, or have a pretty good feeling that I’ve been doing my whole career. So I’d love to do some sort of short course in the future to brush up on the basics, as silly as that sounds.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens could you not live without?
As long as I have my Canon 5D Mark III and 50mm 1.2 lens, I’d feel pretty confident that I could get by with most of my shoots. My usual bag includes another body, 70-200mm f/2.8, 17-40 f/4, 35mm f/2, 135mm f/2 and a speedlite.
Flash or Natural Light?
For portraiture I’m a natural light guy, whether it’s because it’s the style I’ve developed or because I’ve never been that well versed in off-camera lighting. Probably a bit of both.
Can you describe how you use a flash, reflector, natural light when your shooting your portraits?
I prefer shooting in overcast light and try to find nicely textured backgrounds and colours to add texture to my muted style. I rarely use a flash for anything creative, and don’t own a reflector. I try to keep it as simple as possible, particularly as I’m on the road pretty often and try to keep gear to a minimum.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
This picture I took of Passenger (or Mike) a few weeks ago is up there with my all time favourites. It’s a long story but basically I met Mike two years ago while he was busking and playing small shows around the country. He invited me on a regional tour where he’d play to a hundred people or so, or sometimes as little as a couple dozen. We’d stay in hostels and slug it out on the road. He’d been on that same kind of slow path for seven or eight years – working incredibly hard but making slow progress. But he’s a magnificently compelling performer and it was only a matter of time before things turned. And today he’s playing shows to thousands of people every night in cities around the world, his album went to number one in sixteen or so countries, his Facebook page the other day eclipsed a million fans. It’s an inspiring story.
This image is from his last concert of the year in Australia. Everyone on the crew was a little emotional as it signalled the end of this chapter of the journey and the biggest year of his career. Standing behind him as the crowd lit up their phones for his encore was a surreal experience and felt like a symbol of how far he’d come. And how far I’d come as well through my work with him.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was shot and how you edited it?
I typically only make very slight adjustments in post. Here’s an example from a friend’s wedding last year. Whilst slight, some adjustments have been made to project the dreamy, muted style I go for. All of these have been made very subtly, but I have cropped the top and left, increased exposure, decreased saturation and vibrancy, lightened shadows in curves, toned down highlights, sharpened and added vignette.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work?
I use Aperture for 95% of my work, and then Photoshop if an image requires that little extra something. I don’t do much with my images apart from fine tuning the exposure and colour, and a little work with curves. Someone once described my style as ‘a muted vibrancy’ which sounds contradictory but strangely I think is a pretty accurate description.
What’s your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
I’m pretty no-frills when it comes to gear and accessories. I guess my iPhone is pretty indispensable when it comes to certain types of work when it comes to recalling dates and times, or even research on the go. I have a funny story about this actually. An editor texted me during a job last year to make sure I got a picture of a particular soap opera television star. Of course I had no idea who it was so did a quick Google image search to pull up some pictures. Spotted the girl, took her picture, but then accidentally took the phone off standby while I was talking to her after, and the whole grid of images popped up. So. Awkward.
Do you crop in camera or during post?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to composition and balance so I usually feel the need to slightly adjust the crop in post before I’m totally happy. I work very much on the run where speed is key to catch the moment, so I’d rarely be 100% happy with the crop, particularly in live music or candid portraiture situations.
How do you go about learning new techniques?
I think the Perth photography and art community (mostly) is really friendly and open, so if I need to learn something in particular I can usually find a local friend who will help me out. I like that about Perth, I feel like we’re all in it together.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and where?
I have Facebook mostly to thank for establishing my audience and following, though as time goes on it does seem to be becoming an increasingly intrusive platform. I’ve recently taken to Instagram as my preferred medium for sharing my work and have also met some pretty great people around the country and world through it.
Do you ever get photographers block, and if so what do you do to get inspired?
Trawling through places like Instagram and 500px are a good way to get simultaneously inspired and schooled by the amazing work out there.
How much personal work do you shoot?
Not as much as I’d like to or should, but I’ve been working on it. I held my second solo exhibition last year and will be working on three new personal projects to be hopefully exhibited this year. I love working with other people and getting on board with awesome projects, but it’s always important to remember why we all get into this in the first place – to turn the beautiful, the epic, the twisted images in our brain into reality.
Do you plan on purchasing any new gear? If so what are you eyeing off?
I’m actually pretty set with my current setup. My housemate uses an 85mm 1.2 which would be a dream to own though it’s probably a bit of overkill.
Which photographers inspire you and why?
The aforementioned housemate, Caitlin Worthington, is probably my favourite photographer in Perth. Her mastery of colour and tone is world-class.
If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
I’d love to be a touring musician, or an artist of some sort. To be honest, photography is somewhat of a means to an end for me. It’s not usually the images in particular which drive me, it’s more where they will take me. If I could travel to all the same places and meet the same people through any other artistic medium, I would be equally as happy.
You did a heap of travelling in 2013, how did you manage to get so many cool gigs?
I think just meeting a lot of people and being really open to new ideas has given me some really great opportunities. I’m a big believer in diving in headfirst when an opportunity to do something different and amazing comes along, even if it doesn’t really make any financial sense. So a bit of a risk-taking natured has helped me out as well. Hasn’t helped the bank account so much but I’ll worry about that when I have a mortgage.
You’ve now run 2 solo exhibitions, how was the experience? and do think it’s something every photographer should do at least once?
I definitely think exhibiting your work is an important thing for any photographer or artist to do. We live in a digital world now where 99% of our work is viewed through a computer monitor or a three-inch smart phone screen. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. The internet has allowed people all around the world to see my work. But putting in the effort and time to present your work in the real world, and on real walls (not Facebook ones) is an immensely rewarding experience.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
Make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing, no matter what level you’re at. Maybe you have to work some shitty jobs to get to achieve your goals or aspirations, but always remember to have fun on the journey. You might get there someday and realize that it’s not such a big deal shooting that high-profile musician or getting that magazine cover, and what really mattered were the friends you made and the good times you had to get to that point.