Raw and unpolished

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in photography. What inspired you to start taking photos?
I first got a point and shoot camera when I went on a two week holiday to Italy one year from Australia, mainly to go to a music festival called Beaches Brew and also to document my trip in a medium other than my phone. Once I got back and had my film developed I loved how the photos came out; the tone and grain really made the photos feel so much more alive than any photo I’d taken before. I then moved into a house and met a friend who was a big collector of SLR film cameras and helped me to choose and purchase my first SLR (a Minolta SRT 101 black body with a 50mm f1.7 Rokkor lens). Once I had that in my hands I took it everywhere and started shooting in the streets and at gigs I would regularly attend to shoot friends bands and it just progressed from there!

Everyone has a unique style. Can you describe how you would define your style and what visual or conceptual elements characterize it?
I guess my style is somewhat raw and unpolished, I don’t mind making a few mistakes and not being perfect with my frame or focus as long as there is passion and intensity in the shot. One of the main things I like to capture when I’m at a gig seeing a band is looking for what really captures the essence of the person I’m focused on, what it is about them that makes them them and brings them to the foreground; their quirks and mannerisms, sense of humour, emotion and heart, then I want to capture a moment during the set that stands out the most for me and what others can reflect back on or see for the first time and really feel the energy in the shot like they’re still there. I used to have to be very patient for these moments when I was shooting mostly with film, because I knew that if I shot too much in a set I would run out of film and have to quickly change one in the dark and potentially miss a moment which to me feels like a stab in the heart. You’ll always miss something but I feel like there is still some beauty in that and I’ve learnt over the years to let that go a bit and the memory of the moment is still there even without a photo sometimes. One thing I felt separated me from others in the early days of me shooting was how I used to only shoot without a flash at gigs. I would only use the stage lights or dim down lights in venues for my illumination and I found I would get some really interesting results with that technique. Look out for ARSE new record coming out soon which uses some photos of mine with such illumination and are some of my favourite photos I’ve taken on film.

I’ve now adopted a digital camera which I mostly bought for when I went overseas recently and jumped on some friends bands tours in Europe namely Private Function and Split System both from Melbourne, AU, for several shows as a way to save film costs and still be able to shoot as freely as I like. I feel like I formed my style from film though so I definitely don’t want to replace it with digital and I don’t tend to do much if any editing of my photos because I believe that it can take away from the essence of the moment and create more distance between the photograph and the observer of it. The digital camera I use is modelled on a film camera too so it’s very hard to tell between the two sometimes.

Photography has the power to tell stories and convey emotions. Can you share an experience in which one of your photos had a significant impact on people or on yourself?
Outside of gig photography I also shoot in the street sometimes as well and on my walks I would come across some interesting characters who I would sit and chat with before asking for a photo. There have been a lot of sad and harrowing stories and some happy ones as well. Most people on the street that I’ve interacted with just relish you giving your time and ear and acknowledging them like a fellow human, it has taught me to be more present in my life and not to judge people too harshly.

One interaction that I enjoyed was whilst waiting for a bus one day, an oldish man approached me on his bike asking if I wanted to buy some weed which I wasn’t interested in at the time but we still chatted whilst I waited. He noticed some tattoos of mine and the conversation turned to body art and he showed me a few tattoos he got whilst he was in prison. One such tattoo that stood out to me was hand poked over his belly and read ‘Fcuk Authority’ on it, a real middle finger up at the system that had incarcerated him especially whilst locked up. I was fortunate that he allowed me to take his picture but then as he cycled off he was almost hit by the bus that was coming to my stop!

What has been your most challenging photographic project to date and why?
Whilst I was in Europe recently I was asked to shoot a music festival in Hamburg, I agreed to this opportunity because I’ve never been one to turn down an experience that I may never get again, but there was a lot of demand on me to get all the content of each band on two levels, over two days in this big venue called Hafenklang for the annual Get Lost Fest. It was a sold out festival and when one band was finishing another was starting on the other level and I also had to get a shot of the band fresh off stage in the backstage area by the banner for the festival so they could capture the band sweaty and exhausted after their set. I managed to achieve everything that was asked of me and although it was very hard work I really enjoyed the experience and was able to get some great shots of all the bands. Thanks again to Jens, Michael and Daniel for that awesome opportunity!

Technology and photo editing tools are constantly evolving. Can you tell us about the techniques or equipment that you consider essential for your work?
Like I mentioned a few questions ago I don’t tend to do much if any editing on my photos. If I’m shooting on film I will likely just bring the brightness or shadows up or down sometimes if I feel the shot has come out too dark or too washed out for my liking. I tend to shoot mostly black and white now which I find to be more pleasing to me at gigs and I prefer to shoot black and white with a flash so it really helps to separate those dark and light tones and makes for a really strong shot.
My digital camera has the technology to add film recipes to simulate a certain grain stock or tone so I like to scroll through the Fuji website to see what tone I most like and then tinker with it a bit to my own preference.

I’ve heard people using programs like Lightroom and capture one for editing but I’m yet to try those out. I really want to set up a cool home studio one day soon and start experimenting with developing my own film and to also get some good quality monitors for viewing and maybe start editing my digital shots more as I feel less precious with those ones.

There are many genres in photography, from portraits to nature photography. Do you have a favorite genre in which you feel most comfortable or enjoy shooting the most? Why?
I prefer shooting portrait and with people or animals, nature is beautiful and wonderful to shoot as well but I find things with heart beats more interesting to shoot and more unpredictable. You can really feel a lot of emotion from looking into the eyes of a human and animal with a portrait photograph and that is what I love to capture the most.

Can you share an interesting or unusual anecdote you’ve experienced while taking photos?
I was taking some pictures at a day festival called No Fun On The Beaches down in Rye one time where Civic played one of their early shows and during the set I noticed some doormen grabbing and pulling someone out of the crowd for some reason so I followed them as they were forcibly removing this kid from the venue and captured a shot whilst he was being manhandled down the stairs but one of the guys who was escorting this kid looked up and pointed at me and told the other doormen to get me and my camera too so I quickly ducked away inside and hid my camera in my friends merch box in case they tried to remove the film but they couldn’t find me and I was able to sneak back out after the gig without any problems! Success.

Many photographers find inspiration in other visual artists or everyday life. What are some of your sources of inspiration?
I’m mostly inspired by my friends who also shoot photography Dougal Gorman, Jake Brown, Ben Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, Danysha Hariot, Nicole Goodwin to name a few. There are so many great photographers around that it’s always so inspiring seeing their shots at gigs and that inspires me to keep going and shooting even if you sometimes have those off days that we all have.

Photography is a visual medium, but it often has a conceptual background. Have you worked on photographic projects that address specific themes or concepts? Can you share information about one of those projects?
I haven’t really had the opportunity to work on a specific theme for a shoot, I mostly only shoot gigs or street stuff where the stage is already set or the street environment dictates the setting for me, but I’m always open to trying my hand at a studio shoot with a band or a person whether it be for a band promo or a glamour theme for someone’s modelling portfolio.

What inspires you when creating new images? Do you have a ritual or creative process you follow to find inspiration?
My inspiration at shows comes from the energy that is being displayed on stage and in the crowd, I prefer to shoot bands with high energy because I find it makes for a more exciting shot and also the crowd get into it a lot more! I really like shooting hardcore bands for that reason, you can never not get high, raw energy at one of these gigs but it often comes with a bit of danger and risk of injury or broken gear!

Editing and post-processing are essential parts of photography. Do you have a particular focus on post-production of your images?
Honestly no, my post production and editing is so very basic if at all. I’m a self taught photographer and when I first started out I didn’t know anything about anything, it was all trial and error and figuring things out myself or from getting feedback on my shots from fellow photographers. I didn’t realise that I could turn the camera ninety degrees and shoot portrait for about six months, it just never occurred to me, some of my early portrait shots are in landscape! It’s so ridiculous to think that now but I was an absolute newbie to it all about four years ago now. I think I should probably start experimenting a bit now that I have more experience with photography but there is something I really value about a raw image so I tend not to want to mess with it too much.

For aspiring photographers who may be reading this interview, what is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received in your career, or what advice would you like to share with them?
Guess it’s maybe without sounding too cliched to just do it and have fun with it because that’s what I did and that’s how you’re going to figure out what you like about using a camera. I would also recommend someone getting a basic, manual SLR camera and you can’t go wrong with a decent nifty fifty to start off on, they’re reasonably cheap on eBay or at a respectable camera lab if they stock second hand cameras or maybe if you’re on a budget get a cheap point and shoot and have a play with that, you can really luck out sometimes and get something really nice at a car boot or garage sale sometimes.

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