I figured to put together all the questions and answers people email to save me the time in responding and to share and help people understand where I'm coming from.
What makes photographing people interesting to you?
I'm interested in finding that moment when the person lets everything go, or it may seem. I learn more about myself when photographing people.
What inspired you to photograph the people in "Beautiful"?
It wasn't my intention to do this body of work, I live in an area that borders on the Vancouver Eastside where there is a great deal of poverty, drugs and prostitution. It's also a historic neighbourhood with exciting architecture. While shooting the urban architecture I'd run into many girls in the alleys, they were often the ones who invited me to photograph them.
What made you want to become a photographer?
I studied advertising and design. Driven by the corporate industry and bored of the politics, photography became my art... an escape! Then it developed into my work, I'm careful not to make it my job.
If you couldn't be a photographer any more what would you do?
Homeless person living in a box under a bridge with a camera. I can't see myself being anything else at this point.
What is your ultimate goal with your photography?
Shoot more real people for fashion work.
Who is your hero? (fictional or Non-fiction)
Helmut Newton and Juergen Teller
What is your advice to a new photographer that wants to do fashion photography?
Look at European magazines, educate yourself visually, in design, architecture, fashion, people, life. Shoot lots of film (not digital). Take a different path home every day.
What type of camera do you use and is it full body or not?
I have many cameras, Polaroid, Leica, Hasselblad 500CM, Mamiya 7II. For commercial jobs, I used or Mamiya with PhaseOne backs, IQ160 / IQ180. But I like to shoot a loose style with a Canon Mark II (but I'm considering switching to Nikon, if Canon does bring out a +35MP Camera soon. I love my Leica M8, it's like shooting film!
How did you get started as a photographer?
I studied advertising and design and worked as a designer, then art director in the advertising industry. Photography became my art to escape from doing work for corporate clients. The photography became my work and I love it.
How did you arrive at your specialty?
Fashion photography has so many production elements to make great images. I love a team collaborative environment and the unpredictable components.
How do you advertise/promote yourself?
I show my book around, and use various internet marketing tools.
What types of clients do you prefer to work with?
Advertising Agencies, brands with a clear direction, creative people who like to collabota; is that a contriductin? I really like fashion. But the secret is finding the unique and exciting element to the product or project, no matter what it is.
How do you keep your work fresh and inspired?
Continuous visual education, take different paths walking, driving, travel, see place, meeting people, get to know people, put myself into challenging situations.
Where are the main places you find yourself working from?
Toronto, Montreal, New York, Berlin, Cape Town.
What is your favourite place to work and why?
I love Cape Town, it's where I grew up. It has so much energy, and the sunshines!!!!!
What are some of the best things about being able to work from multiple locations?
Locations are inspiration for much of my work. I love to see what people are wearing in different cities, how Europe is always at least 1 year ahead of North America:) that's going to annoy somene! And it always feels like I'm on holiday;)
What is one piece of technology you could never live without and why?
That's a difficult question, mmm... macbook pro, iphone, camera, I kinda need all 3. But if it were down to one, I'd have to say the iphone, I can shoot with it, talk to people, schedule, access files, docs... Yeah the iphone, can't live with out it, kinda sad?
What technology (tools, gadgets, programs, databases/software/services, etc.) do you use to ensure your work gets done on deadline no matter where you are, sent where it needs to be and saved/stored safely? Please list everything you use and what it's used for.
Macbook Pro, with Lightroom and Photoshop for editing and post production. LaCie harddrives, I use these to continuously run backups with TimeMachine on my Macbook. Wacom Tablet, for retouching and editing. iphone with essential apps, Logmein to access servers in the studio, download and send images I may not have on my Macbook. Google Maps, can't do without that. Yelp to find nearby resources like gas station, restaurant.. . The weather, - the best app I have found for weather is WeatherPro, it gives me all the weather info by the hour, I need to make decisions on where and when to shoot on location. Yousendit.com, for delivering images to client. DropBox:) Google Docs, I love having all my docs online and accessible from anywhere.
How do you stay connected to colleagues, clients and editors while you are travelling/not at a home base?
I email clients and potentail client to keep them up-to-date with new work. Facebook and Twitter are great to let people know where and what you're up. People are getting tired of spam, so I believe tools like Facebook / Linkedin are becoming more powerful even to reach professionals.
What piece of technology would make your life easier if you could get your hands on it (maybe it hasn't been invented yet, maybe you just haven't got around to shopping...)?
A holographic bubble! Why are we still using screens? I'm hoping it will be built into iphone 10, and it would be nice to be able to make calls while flying.
What would your job be like if you couldn't use or didn't have all the technology/gadgets you mention?
Not as fun! It's like any industry, you have to keep up with the tools of the trade to be competitive. For me, I like the element of technology in my art, even if I'm shooting film. Digital media is an amazing tool to get your work out there and keep people interested. If it wasn't for the tools and gadgets, the road would be long!
More and more professionals are waking up to the fact they can take their jobs anywhere and everywhere. What do you think is behind this emerging trend?
Certainly technology has freed us up, yet still being connected to people, teams to get the job done no matter l where you are. The only problem are time zones, and maybe that's a good thing. Just imagine if we were all on the same time zone... crazy! I also think because of these technologies were are a restless generation, more and more were are exposed to foreign places and imagery through instant media, we're basically there already. And it's quick, easy and cheap to physicallyl get there.
Being a photographer is an inherently transient profession (or at least has the potential to be so). Is that something that drew you to it? What led you to fashion photography?
Growing up in South Africa and feeling isolated led me to moving away and looking at other places. I guess this inspires travel for me. I moved to Vancouver and worked in the interactive advertising industry and traveled a fair amount for that. Photography became my art to escape doing creative for corporate clients. I started shooting urban architecture, but soon got bored and started to look for more production and people in my work, and that's when I discover there are so many great elements to fashion photography - concept, location, team, models props....expression... it can be structured and often very unpredictable which I love. So, no I don't think I got into photography to travel, but it suits my lifestyle very well!
What time of day are you most creative, and why?
Later at night mostly, sometimes I take long, hot baths, it gives me time to slow down and relax letting the wheels turn in my head. I also get really inspired when traveling, seeing new locations... and fashion.
Describe your workspace.
White, clean, open space, but when I walk out the door the streets are gritty, edgy and rough.
What inspires you most in life?
Travel influences me a great deal, seeing new locations, the different way people dress on the street. I love watching people in street cafes, traveling on public transport in foreign cities. People look different everywhere you go. I like to grab those ideas and mix them all up.
What does 'beauty' mean to you?
I love this question! You can find beauty in every subject you shoot. Yes, I may have a beautiful model in front of my camera, but I need to find that moment where I see past the face. I very much like to work with models who are not the classic beauty, but rather to find that unique moment and expression that captures the beauty of the person.
Are there any concepts or ideas which you would like to re-explore?
I'd like to use more normal (not models) people in my fashion work. I have a fashion concept to shoot in Cape Town later this year.
For a young artist who wishes to make a living fulfilling their dream - what advice would you give?
"You are the sum of your experiences" not sure who said that, but it works for me. You need to be consistently living what you do. "Visual literacy" and I don't mean going to school, I mean absorbing visually. Look through books/magazine and see different place, if you walk to work, take a different route every day, watch people, be a listener not a talker. Build relationships with people who can help you and be nice to people. Do your own thing and stick to it not matter what but consider advice from others who offer it.
Do you have a hero?
Helmut Newton's work is very inspirational for me. I love his simple technique, yet so much dialogue in his images.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
Berlin, I love the gritty-ness, people are so individual in their style, they just throw it on and walk out of the door looking fantastic! I love Cape Town for it's beauty and the positive, happy feeling.
Finally, are there any new/upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?
:), so many things to do....
When working within the Fashion industry, to what extent do you have creative control over the styling and overall look of the shoot?
It really varies, for editorial there is a lot of creative control, but it depends on the magazine. All in all, there is quite a lot of creative control, that's why shifted from advertising to fashion.
Which part of the process of photography do you enjoy the most?
I love trying to figure out what will make it different, the concept. Things need to be clearly imprinted in my head before I shoot. Then all the right elements need to fit together for the execution to reflect the concept.
How important do you think image editing is and why? It depends on what you mean by editing.
If it means retouching, for me it's not important, I like a raw look and get very close to what I want in the camera. If you mean editing as in selecting images from the shoot, it's SUPER important in telling the story, pairing the right images can really change the flow of the story.
How would the style and process of your photography be affected, if from now on you were restricted to only using black and white?
It would change for sure. If I shoot a black and white story, I think in black and white. I would shoot with more available light maybe, clothing would be more textured...