Tony is an NZIPP Accredited Photographer based in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island.
Tony, tell us about yourself
I live in Christchurch, and have been a full time photographer, and NZIPP member, now for 21 years. I have worked for myself that whole time, after an initial stint assisting. I have also taught part time in the photography department at ARA (then CPIT) during my early years. Prior to photography, I was teaching in both the primary and secondary sector, but changed direction after my OE in the late 90’s. I certainly don’t look back, and love being self employed.
I am quite a generalist you could say, covering a range of genres from commercial, events, schools and weddings. Something that I would say has served me well, especially after the Canterbury quakes a few years back. I don’t tend to cover editorial, sport or family portraiture.
A highlight for me was achieving Grand Master in 2018. I never thought that was a possibility, and was something that other ‘amazing’ people managed. But slowly and surely, with baby steps, it all came together!
I enjoy the outdoors, craft beer, and low ‘n’ slow BBQ’s!
Whose work has influenced you the most?
Hard to say exactly, as I don’t really have one influence. I certainly have a lot of respect for the work and back stories of Frank Hurley and Sebastião Salgado. I’m not sure that shows in any of my work though?!
I think the colour works of rural New Zealand by Robin Morrison did a lot to captivate my attention when I first started out, and it has taken me a while to fully appreciate and understand these.
What is your funniest story from a photoshoot?
I’ve had a few now.
A groom who spent his wedding night in A&E. I’ve had an overseas clients insist they take pictures with beautiful reflections of a nearby ‘lake’, that was actually the sewerage settling pond at Mt Cook. I’ve had a sheepish bride collect wedding photos for a wedding that didn’t last as long as it took me to output files (and I don’t tend to muck around!). I chose to delete a photo of John Key eating a hotdog, that could otherwise have been a career ending move!! I have had staff who had a grandmother actually pass away during a wedding service (not that that is funny, rather a very unforgettable anecdote).
What is your favourite subject to photograph?
I certainly love people, especially getting amongst heartland New Zealand for many rural clients.
To be out and about on a beautiful day amongst our scenery is just magic.
What does Photography mean to you?
It is definitely a career, not a job. I have met some incredible people – musicians, scientists, politicians, business people, sports people, and everyday Joe Blogs with a story… It has enabled me access to people and places not normally possible.
I love learning, and being part of many varied client shoots over the years has exposed me to a wealth of new experiences. I’m thinking here about corporate events particularly, where I have learnt so much from various conference speakers and industry training events.
‘Oh, that’s why we have immigration set at that level’, or ’this is the global warning forecast for the next 10yrs’. That sort of thing.
What is in your Camera Bag?
I am fully Canon, with several 5D-IV’s and a Canon R mirrorless my main bodies. But too be honest, I don’t get too caught up on gear. My kit is really just a tool to do my job. I have a range of studio and portable lighting, backgrounds, video gimbals, audio kit… that I just mix and match according to client needs.
I don’t buy into too much debate Nikon vs Canon, Mac vs PC, Ford vs Holden!! (Though I am fully Mac and love my Hyundai!).
What piece of advice would you give to a beginner Photographer?
I’d say that having a love for photography alone doesn’t give you a head start. It is in fact a prerequisite, that all successful photographers should already have. I’d say that passion only puts you in the starting blocks, and alone doesn’t give you an advantage. You will need something else beyond that. I would say a strong head for business would also be a major aspect that people need to understand. I met so many students when I was teaching, who struggled with the idea of running a business. At some point many young people will need to feed a family, pay a mortgage, save for retirement, finally have a nice holiday…. so developing solid business practise early is critical I believe.
Why did you join NZIPP?
I feel you owe it to yourself as a professional, to be part of a collective with a common voice and purpose.
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