Ok, so I decided I’d kick start this with project by putting myself out there. Obviously can’t do a collab with myself, but here’s my self-portrait *laugh* (Think that’s actually about the right proportions of my head to my shoes! With just the right amount of clutter too!)
And here’s my interview:
What are your creative pursuits , and how did you get into them?
I’ve always been writing, and I think I’ve liked visual expression since I was young, just that I never thought I could draw. Certainly, the grades I got at Art and Class as a kid never helped change that impression…
It was only later when I discovered digital cameras and Photoshop that I thought “maybe I can take pictures instead of draw”. Then as I was finishing school I assisted a commercial photographer for a day on an advertising shoot and it was like working on a film set but on a much smaller scale.
I had fun! And I’ve been trying to find a way to get better at it ever since. (Even though I somehow doubt I will ever be good enough for myself.)
What is it about your creative pursuit that speaks to you?
Writing to me is a release. It’s just something I do. I think when you’re younger you sit down sometimes and come up with stories for yourself to play-act in, and then as we grow up we stop trying to make-belive and the magic is lost.
Thankfully, it’s not something I’ve quite forgotten to do. (Though I must admit I’m not doing as much of it as I should. But I digress…) Basically what happens when I write is that sometimes I get an idea. It could be a line, or a paragraph, or just a verse.
I write it down on my notebook, and try not to think what comes next, but to let the line develop by itself. Sometimes the words come, sometimes they don’t. But normally at the end of it all I have a paragraph or so of some story that I keep thinking I’ll come back to and yet never quite do.
As for photography, it depends. If I’m doing one of my set-up shoots, then I’m trying to create an image that tells a story when I look at it later on. This is always the easiest to do as – you might have gathered from above – I get my “story” in words first, before I see the actual poses or expressions.
It’s kinda stressful and generally quite exhausting at the end of a long day, but when it’s all done and dusted, if I get some frames that capture what I had in my mind when I first started the shoot, then it’s all worth it.
For the other type of photography – that I can’t quite classify as “street” or “travel” or “nature” – I’m just basically walking around and trying to see. Then capture these pictures as best as I can on camera. It’s not quite about making memories or recording the place – though that certainly comes into play on some level – but rather, just what catches my eye.
What inspires you, and where does that inspiration lead you?
Everything and anything really. Good work. Interesting new places. I wish I could say I was one of those people who got hit by a sudden bit of inspiration and then turned it into an incredible piece of work, but I’m not.
What I do get, is bits and pieces of ideas. Maybe I’ll see a nice location and think, this could be nice for a shoot, or “this would be awesome for this type of theme”. But that’s generally about it. Poses, wardrobe, overall look. That all comes later, and generally through discussion with the people who are gracious enough to get involved.
I don’t think the process works quite the same way for writing, but I’m pretty sure everything I’ve read and everything I’ve experienced till today has had some sort of influence on the way I think and speak, and so the way I write.
If you plan projects, what is it like in your head when you first start a new project?
Well, it always starts with a story for me. Like, that’s the only way I get my ideas it seems. Then the tough part is turning those ideas – that I don’t necessarily see in my head – into something physical that I can photograph.
That’s why I really love it when I have people to bounce ideas off (of ), because everyone adds a bit of what they have or can find, and then it’s like a bit of the abstract fog gets carried away and replaced with something physical and slowly but surely the pictures come to life.
For writing though, I never plan it. Pretty much because the planning starts the writing in a sense. Like one sentence will lead to another which will lead to a paragraph forming and so forth..
What was it like the very first time you were paid for doing something creative?
Bloody good obviously. *laughs *
For writing, it was kinda just validation that my writing was good enough to be paid for, even if I never studied journalism.
I actually don’t remember what was the first job I did that I got paid for as a photographer, but I do know that every time I’m done with a job I’m exhausted because there’s always this frantic need to do the best I can so the stuff I turn in will be (just about) good enough for the client to accept.
I think it’s a lot like the thing Neil Gaimain talks about (at least I think it was him), where we all have this fear of being found out as an imposter at what we do, because being able to do what we love for a living seems like it shouldn’t be real.
I get that with my photography a lot, but with writing, not so much. Probably because the writing that I’m doing now for work (that’s paying the bills) isn’t quite the writing that comes to me that I’d love to have made into a book.
I’d love to have enough of that writing to make a book, so that’s something I really need to work on I guess.
What’s your greatest (creative) fear?
In both cases, that I’ll never get there and I’ll always just be “good, but not good enough”.
What are some of the best lessons you’ve learnt during your pursuit?
That there really is no right or wrong way to do anything.
And that everyone has an opinion. Oh, and that everyone needs a lucky break.
Or maybe it’s more like, everyone needs to take the advantages of the breaks they get when they get it, instead of hoping for someone else’s.
How are you hoping to improve on it?
Just by doing more work, making more mistakes and hoping I learn from these mistakes… And doing more work.
Who’s been the biggest influence on you? And how has he/she influenced your work?
I’d have to say my buddy Keefe – just in the way he’s always doing something creative. Always looking at things slightly differently, or discovered things that tend to fall in the cracks.
And the way he’s always just got on and did his own thing. No matter if there was an audience or not. He hasn’t influenced my work per say, but he’s been quite the yard stick for me to follow through the years.
What would be your ideal project? No budgets, personnel restrictions (ie living or dead), or time constraints (ie you can work with anyone from any time period), anything you wish is available to you, and you have perfect technique to pull off anything you wish.
I’d love to do a large scale David Lachapelle/Tim Walker-ish set of photos that are really surreal and fairy tale-like. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do and the kicker would be to have those pictures up on large billboards like in Times Square or Hong Kong’s Central just so I could walk past these places and see these pictures flashing larger than life above me.
I don’t know who I’d get for each role, but I’d love to have the option of hunting for the perfect people – famous, unknown, friend, stranger; whoever best fit the role – placing them in fantastic wardrobe, and placing them in the perfect locations so that, even without taking a picture, you knew which story the image was telling.
What’s the one thing you hope to be able to learn in order to move to the next level of your craft?
The one thing I really hope to learn (for my photography) is how to visualise my scenes better. If I can see it, I can light it, and I can direct someone to pose for it. And well, I guess I should be able to better set up the props/wardrobe for it too.
For writing, I guess I hope to be able to finally come up with a consistent thread so that my random passages start to fall together to become chapters, and those chapters fall together to become a story.