Chris is a NZIPP Accredited Photographer based in New Plymouth, New Zealand.
Hi Chris, can you tell us a little about yourself, your childhood, where you live and how you started in photography?
I grew up in the small coastal city New Plymouth and have lived here most of my life. I was a latecomer to photography. While I had an Instamatic camera when I was young, I didn’t take up photography until my early 20s when I borrowed an SLR film camera to take on a skiing trip, fell in love with it and never gave it back. (I did buy it off my mate).
What type of photography do you do and where do you get the inspiration for your work?
Having a mountain and plenty of coastline in my back yard, I naturally spent my time photographing the landscape. This led me to purchase a large format (4x5 inch) camera. Using a camera with tilt/shift led me to photographing architecture, which I have built a reputation for and I now work largely as a commercial photographer. One of the areas that I have been enjoying photographing over the last eight years is musical theatre. I also photograph events and portraits and still cover the odd wedding.
What has been your career path? How did you get to being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time, for a living?
My journey through photography has not always been easy. I began my career as a communications technician for New Zealand Railways, where I worked for 13 years. It was during this time that I took up photography as a hobby and started selling some of my photographs. After leaving this job through redundancy I worked in the private communications sector for a while. Following my second redundancy I decided to start my own business as a photographer in 1997. In 2002 I was invited to teach photography at the local polytechnic. This I did part-time for 15 years while also running my business. Since leaving that job I now teach photography to small groups of amateur photographers as part of my business.
If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
I have struggled with a lack of confidence, but as I have grown older I have become more secure in my abilities. If I were to go back 10 years and have a talk to myself I would tell myself to stop caring what others are doing and have more faith in my own work.
If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t a photographer what would I be? It’s a tricky question, I couldn’t imagine anything that I would rather be doing than photography. I have been in this business for over 20 years and I think I am just as passionate about photography as I have ever been.
Do you spend a lot of time editing your work?
I love editing my photographs and feel that it is part of my creative process. However, when it comes to client work I try to be efficient in my editing and processing and for commercial jobs I try to spend more time getting the shot right on the job so that I can spend my editing time polishing the images. For personal work I spend far too much time working on the images.
What do you like most about Photography?
I really enjoy the creative process and photography is my outlet for this. One of the most fulfilling times is when I have an idea in my mind that I am able to bring to reality in the camera.
Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?
I believe in feeding my mind with good photography, reading blogs and books that feature a wide range of photographers and styles. I frequently find myself deconstructing many of the photographs to take away small influences. Right from the early days in my photographic development I have been inspired by the work of Ansel Adams. These days I have really enjoyed the work of Joey Lawrence. Both of these photographers have taught me about the use of light and had an influence on my work.
Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?
For those new to the industry I would encourage them to stay true to your own vision and find your own voice. Our industry is one where each photographer brings their own voice and sometimes we get so sidetracked by trying to follow trends that we lose that uniqueness.
Why did you join NZIPP?
When I started my business there was a clear differentiation between professional and amateur photographers, as time has gone on the boundary between the two has become less certain. The fact that I am a NZIPP accredited professional is putting a stake in the ground and gives my clients the confidence that my work has been assessed to a high professional standard by a body of fellow professional photographers. The other main benefit of NZIPP membership is the large community of people that you can call on for advice in an industry in which many of us work in isolation.
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