How I got into photography: I received a Kodak 126 camera for Christmas when I was ten so I always found photography interesting. I was taking photos at my brother’s wedding when the official photographer saw my images and offered me a job. After I finished school, it came down to my preferred choices of carpentry (like my Dad and brothers) or doing photography.
I was shooting bits and pieces on the weekends with the wedding photographer and doing all the darkroom work during the week. During this time, I started a photography diploma. One day after class, I saw an ad pasted on the wall for a mid-level photographer at Studio Commercial. That was in 1987, now I’m the head honcho. There’s a lot of freedom and you meet a lot of different people, it’s a really nice way to make a living.
My expertise: I love producing large photo shoots, whether I’m the photographer in the studio that’s doing it or not. There’s a great level of satisfaction when the client sees the end result.
In the studio, I enjoy product and people photography, for completely opposite reasons. I like to photograph ordinary people, make them look nice. Most people think they look awful in photos and they’re pleasantly surprised when they see a professional photo of themselves, I enjoy being a part of that. I like shooting products because you can take your time with it, you can experiment with all of the different variables… and they don’t talk back. I also have a secret love of shooting landscapes, flora & fauna.
What I’ve learnt about commercial photography: Don’t take yourself too seriously, no one likes to work with a drama queen. I like to keep photo shoots light hearted and fun. My job is half running the business and half photographing. Business can be tough at times but we can keep five people employed, so I think we’re on the right path. One of the great things about working with so many creative people in the one studio is that you can’t help but be inspired by all of the fantastic work being produced, which results in everyone constantly raising the bar.
The future is looking good, especially after coming out of the global financial crisis over the last couple of years.
My advice to aspiring photographers: If you want a solid technical education, do the (tertiary college) TAFE photography diploma, for lighting and camera education, it’s a really good course. The less you have to think about how to use the camera, lighting etc, if that’s all second nature, it frees up your mind to think about how you want to shape the shoot.
It’s a hard industry to get into and it’s getting harder and harder to get started because of technology making just about everyone think they’re a photographer, hence the rising level of competition. Don’t work for free, you injure the whole industry when you do that.
If I could live anywhere: other than Sydney, it would be Italy. We visited for three weeks and every meal except for one was outstanding. There’s a bit more of a traditional, less hurried lifestyle, a high value is placed on family and there’s a respect for other people. There’s so much old architecture, design and interesting cars too.*
My last day on earth: I’d go to France and cycle up a big mountain with my family in tow, then have a few beers!
*Note: Jason has been a club-level race car driver for twenty years, driving his supercharged 1970’s Alfa Romeo.