Featured Photographer: Gary Compton

FK chats to talented Sydney based photographer Gary Compton about his work and inspiration! Gary has been our Sydney event photographer for the markets, and has done many of our favourite images that we have used over the years for FK!! You can check out the photo albums on our Facebook page.

We have been lucky enough to have you photograph the Finders Keepers Markets, numerous time! Can you tell us about your style of photography and how it has evolved?
I must be doing something right because I keep getting asked back!  I like to shoot people and a lot of other subjects, I think I’d get bored if I was shooting the same thing all time. I think it takes a while when you’re just starting to work out what you really enjoy photographing, so I’d say you need to try out as many different genres of photography as you can. I’m drawn to subjects that interest me on a personal level.

What is your background and when did you start photography?
I was born in England and my family came out to Australia for a working holiday and we never went back. I remember growing up my dad owned an Olympus SLR and that was always lying around the house but I didn’t really learn photography until high school. My school had a darkroom and that’s where I started taking pictures and learning black and white printing and developing. Although photography was my favourite subject I didn’t even consider it as a career after finishing high school. It wasn’t until a long time later.

You shoot a broad range of subjects from portraits, events and landscapes etc! What inspires and drives your work and where do you look for inspiration?
I’m inspired from everywhere and by so many different things, certain films inspire me a lot and I’m always looking at the lighting and camera angles, I get ideas while I’m driving or walking or listening to music, it’s about creating space in your world to think and allow inspiration to come. Understanding that you’re a creative person and that you need to create on a regular basis is a revelation when it comes and realizing that you need a creative outlet whatever it is, painting, cooking, writing, drawing, making music or whatever is empowering. I speak to a lot of creative people that are creatively frustrated in their jobs and that’s not a good thing, I lived in that place for a number of years before deciding to pursue photography as a career. So I guess now I’m driven to create as that is what is paying the bills these days, also I’ve just moved into a studio with another photographer in Newtown and having that overhead is a great motivator to get on the phone and chase new work.

Do you have a favourite camera you prefer to work with and which ones would you like to explore more?
I used to own two Hasselblad medium format film cameras when I started getting seriously back into photography in 2006 but I ended up selling them both to go digital, I’d love to own a Hassleblad again and shoot some film but I haven’t shot film in years and for work digital is easier. I love taking photos with my iPhone and am heavily addicted to Instagram. I shoot with Canon now because it was what I started with but I do like shooting with Movement cameras and Digital backs so definitely want to shoot more with them.

How has your creative style developed and what is your working process?
I like what I’ve heard said by a well known photographer on the subject of style “concentrate on honing a sensibility rather than focusing on a style” So I’d like to think that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble about any romantic notions people may have about photographer’s just taking photos all day every day because that’s not reality, maybe if I’m lucky 10% of my time is spent actually taking photos, probably less and the other 90% would include, editing and retouching images, chasing new work, meetings, tax, trying to learn new skills and keep up with the latest software etc the list of daily tasks on my to do list seems never ending and somewhere in there is finding room to shoot more personal work too.

What advice would you give others wanting to follow a similar path.
If your heart’s not in it and your not fully committed to succeeding and making photography work find another profession now, there are a lot easier ways to not make a lot of money. It’s not an easy path and if you’re used to a regular weekly paycheck and clocking on at 9am and going home at 5pm maybe this isn’t the career for you. Unfortunately I spend a lot of my time staring at a computer screen and that’s a necessary part of the digital process. The best advice I can give is shoot what you love to shoot and keep shooting as much as you can, if you’re doing photography part time or on the weekends save as much money as you can and build up some regular clients. Find a subject your passionate about and shoot that whether it’s music, cars or whatever, shoot what your passionate about.

What has been your favourite project or exhibition?
Personal projects are really important I have a few ongoing projects.

What direction and ideas do you have for the future?
As far as the future is concerned, I feel like I’m still at the beginning of my career and still have a lot to learn and that’s something great about photography you never stop learning, there is always something new to learn. I have a personal project that I’m still working on based around tattoos and their historical importance and cultural meaning so I’m planning a trip to New Zealand and Japan for that and as part of this project shooting a documentary on both of these trips, I’d also like to make the move into music videos next year so I think 2013 is going to be a massive year which is very exciting.


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