Hi Will, thanks for being part of the michaels Interview Sessions for 2011. Great to have a chat with someone who is obviously passionate about both photography and our wonderful city of Melbourne.
No worries, michaels has been a great help with my recent exhibition and I’ve really enjoyed working with you guys.
Let's start at the start. When did your love affair with photography begin? What sparked your interest and how long have you been working as a professional/artistic photographer?
My grandfather was an esteemed doctor, world traveller and passionate photographer - I missed out on the smarts but I think the other two traits have been handed down. Gramps entered (and won) a lot of competitions at the local camera club, and we always got a preview of the slideshow entries at family get-togethers. I was bored sometimes, but I think looking at so many of his shots early in life sparked an interest.
Mum & Dad had a Polaroid when I was little, which was the first camera I used, and a pretty easy way to get hooked. There were SLRs in the house growing up which I remember playing with but with pretty poor results.
When I bought my first digital camera (a 3.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot that cost over $3000) I became obsessed. That obsession grew again with my first DSLR about 5 years ago, and again after buying a 1950’s Rolleiflex to play with.
How have you developed your skills and craft over time? Have you engaged in any formal training, learned from peers and photographic communities you are involved in or are you predominantly self-taught?
I’ve done a couple of short courses, but mostly I am self-taught. Commuting by bike means I can stop and shoot whenever something pops up and I think shooting on the street is great way to learn the craft, get an eye for light and improve your timing and skills.
Flickr was certainly a factor in it becoming more than a hobby. I realise now that it isn’t a great measure of quality, but when you are starting out a bit of encouragement goes a long way. I would look at photographs from around the world long into the night and the photographers I started following showed me you could photograph ANYTHING. There were really no constraints, so I hit the streets.
I met Dave Carswell (http://www.flickr.com/photos/davewell/) after I bought a lovely print of his and he has been a great help in teaching me the ropes of film photography. The photographers I have watched and met through online communities have been great and are constantly inspiring. Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world for photography and I think we make the most of it.
Well it’s fantastic you have had that form of mentorship and support. What would you say is the best advice you have received from another photographer over the years? Is there any one suggestion or piece of information that stands out as forever practical and useful?
Two quotes stand out for me:
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” - Elliott Erwitt
These are certainly excellent role models in the world of photography and I can see how this has influenced your direction. As I understand it you wear many hats – A Google search of your name leads to a few websites. Tell us a little about 'Melbourne Street' and 'Megawatt Media?'
Melbourne Street is my daily photoblog, where I post one shot per day, usually taken during my bicycle commute through the CBD streets. I also feature other Melbourne photographers once a week (most weeks) on Feature Friday, which has been a great way to know Melbourne’s photographic community. A lot of people ask if each photograph was taken on the same day - they are not - but they are always fresh, within a week, which allows me some flexibility to try and present a series or theme. I also don’t want the site to become too event focused, which is a danger when trying to present something of interest everyday.
Megawatt Media is my freelance photography & design business that specialises in bars and restaurants. I like to be involved in a lot of different aspects of the presentation of a business, as it allows me a fair bit of freedom in what images I take and how they are presented. Being around amazing food and wine a lot of the time is a great perk too.
I also still work part time at Red Rock Leisure (doing the same kind of stuff). They have been awesome in providing me with the flexibility to pursue my interests.