James and I first met working together on an ill-fated print newspaper called East. He was its staff photographer and I was a junior designer. Since then we’ve worked on dozens of projects together and have remained firm friends. This is the first time I’ve ever had him at the business end of a camera though, and it was a lot of fun to see how he reacted to being on the other side of the lens.
Why do photographers almost universally wear black clothes even when it’s hot?
For years I resisted, I felt it was cliche 101, like when designers drove Saabs.
Now, however, my wardrobe is reduced to black, grey and white for a couple of reasons. I don’t have to exert mental energy deciding what to wear, the ability to hide food stains*, I can remain stealthy. I enjoy wearing a suit when barking instructions in boardrooms.
(*Does not apply wearing white)
Your work has included a large body of portraiture. Who was the most fun person to photograph?
Good question, recently it would be Fiona Scott-Norman who brought her posse of chickens to the studio.
What do you say to clients when they say “can’t we just shoot this on our phones instead?”
iPhones are not to be underestimated, there are several examples I know of professionals using them for major campaigns, which is exciting and bit scary. It’s the old adage, just because you own a Steinway doesn’t mean you can play like Rachmaninov.
But to answer your question, I agree with them, then allow the silence between us to find its natural conclusion.
What simple thing makes you happiest?
Love this question! Well, the other day simply replacing the light globe at the front of my studio was the solution. I thought it could be a complicated wiring issue as it has a remote sensor – Result!
I came across ridiculously happy and helpful parking attendant, I find this inspiring.
Are you good at Instagram?
I have an uneasy relationship with Instagram. I find it a bit overwhelming and don’t follow many people. We feel we need to curate the perfect life, which is, of course, total bullshit. Some of us buy into it, me included, but I don’t think it’s great for general mental health. Also, being a parent makes one more aware of the reality distortion it presents to young minds. I use mine as another avenue for my images and include a short summary of the shot. (And curate my perfect shoots!)
Would you rather have a Bunnings sausage or a Bacon and Egg McMuffin?
This question would stump Leigh Sales. I’d have to say the snag, then go and buy shit.
Can you name a person from a field other than photography who has had a significant impact on your work?
Inadvertently philosophers: Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca (whom I don’t even think used a light meter). I like reading about people who have overcome adversity, made an impact on other peoples lives against the odds. Photography is obviously a preoccupation with the surface, I find parts of me become frustrated and bewildered with the superficial aspect of images creation, so I feel the need to dig deeper.
What’s your favourite movie involving time travel?
Ground Hog Day, an all-time favourite. I didn’t think of it as time travel before this question actually.
At what age do men who ride bikes get given their first set of lycra gear?
For me, it was about 37. I was dragged kicking and screaming, then discovered the soothing properties of a chamois padding
What do you never leave home without?
Tedious predictable and a sign of our busy time-poor lives, but my Nokia 5110.
I’ve worked with you for 20 years now and I have never seen you lose your cool on a shoot. It’s almost spooky how calm you are. How do you do it?
I save my frustration, fears and insecurities and unload on the checkout girl when she sweetly asks I pay for 15 cents for a plastic bag. Both barrels may I add. A director told me years ago, if you lose it on set, it’s sub-optimal.
What was the most unusual thing for you about being photographed for this piece?
Being on the other side! I found the experience to be surprisingly, completely enjoyable. Being able to simply sit down within a room of gear and relinquish control, and be directed made me consider how subjects feel working with me. I was interested to see what you would do.
Wouldn’t a sugarglider be an ace pet?
I’d like to have a sugar glider if only for its tremendous name. Those big googly eyes, the random flights, whats not to love? I photographed #BasiltheMacaw recently, his owner Grant said it was just like having a cat, it would wake him up, follow him around the house. I’m all for unconventional pets.
My stable alas, is bare.