We chat with local Photographer & Creative Jack Gibson about his love of photography and his thoughts on his practice.
How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera onto the film, chip or paper in just the way you want?
Patience, timing and sometimes luck. I definitely feel that observation is an acquired skill and the more you practice, the better you get at predicting an outcome. As well as this, it’s knowing the capabilities and limitations of the equipment that I’m working with. I know that I have specific lenses or cameras that are suited to specific conditions. I find it’s a matter of learning the gear and then using it appropriately. For example, my mirrorless camera doesn’t shoot at high ISO or my portrait lens isn’t coated for specific light conditions.
Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
I’ve spent countless hours listening to podcasts and interviews with various photographers from different backgrounds. I generally find that each individual has useful advice, regardless of whether they may shoot a similar style or something completely different to yourself. While I’ve taken notes from a whole range of working photographers who’s names I probably couldn’t remember now if I tried, there are definitely a few that I particularly hold in high regard. One of the most influential experiences for me personally was listening to Dan Milnor speak at a creative conference about 5 or so years ago. He shared his experiences from the field and some of his philosophy towards photography. This was definitely a turning point for me and inspired me to pursue what was only the start of a hobby at that point. Arto Saari is another favourite. I’ve always enjoyed his perspective and use of environment in his photography. Terry O’Neill, Richard Avedon and Jonathan Mannion for their portraiture. Beyond that, Elliott Erwitt is probably my all time favourite photographer and my favourite person to listen to.
Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you get your photographs to do that?
At this point there isn’t anything overly dramatic that I am trying to say through my photography. Day-to-day I like to focus on some of the smaller details that most people might overlook in their busy lives. Beyond that, I just try to take photos that portray the subject in their best light. I find that most people tend to judge themselves quite harshly or might be quite self conscious having their photograph taken. If the subject approves or is happy with the photo then I feel like I have succeeded. To make somebody feel good about them self through photography, to me, is quite an achievement. Overall, I’m really just enjoying taking photographs and improving my eye. If it ever turns into something more, thats great, if not, at least I’m having fun.
What was your creative path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing within your day job?
I’ve always had an interest in visual art and following my graduation from high school, undertook a creative degree at QUT. I had the opportunity to take a photography subject which was an area that I had always been interested in but didn’t really know how to approach. Within a month or so I had bought my first SLR. From that point I pursued photography as a hobby. Accompanied with perusals of graphic design, I was offered a role as a product photographer. From there, everything snowballed. I decided I wanted to improve as a photographer and started shooting for social media and developing a portfolio. As my interest in photography peaked, I experimented with various digital cameras, as well as some 35mm and 120mm.
What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best, as you photograph?
I shoot across a few different cameras but overall, simplicity works best for me. Having experimented with a range of digital and film cameras, I think I’m at a stage now where I’m fairly happy and comfortable with my setup. One 35mm, one medium format, mirrorless for street and SLR for product, studio and any other pursuit that requires speed and accuracy. I generally process through Lightroom with minimal adjustments. I definitely feel that the closer I can get to the final product in camera, the better.
How do you get paid to do what you want to do with your photography?
Luck and hard work. I’ve been lucky enough to know people who have provided me with work through my education and supported my progression as a creative/photographer over the past few years. Of course, I’ve worked hard to produce the highest standard of work possible and continue to try and raise the bar. I spend a lot of my spare time trying to improve which I think is necessary as a creative. I definitely have a passion for the craft that motivates me to work hard and continually improve, both for myself and for my employers.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?
I have always been more of an observer than participator. The older I get the more I accept and embrace this fact and I think that is what motivates me to keep shooting. I’ve found a pastime that coincides with my personality and has held my interest for quite a few years now. My greatest motivation now is to improve. I’d like to keep photography in the forefront of both my work and personal life and I believe I have a long way to go before I can confidently say that I‘m a “professional”. Whether I am getting paid or not, I’d still be taking photos. I guess that indicates that there’s an emotional side to the motivation.
Where would you like to be in 5 years …..?
It’s hard to say where I’d like to be specifically in five years. I feel like I’m still very much in the early stages as a photographer. There’s still a lot I want to learn and styles that I’d like to try. Having said that, five years is a considerable amount of time that I would happy dedicate to progression. I’ve heard Jonathan Mannion say a number of times that one defining difference between an average photographer and a great photographer is the knowledge of craft. This is one thought that has always stayed with me and I’d hope that in five years, I could be at a stage with my photography that exemplifies a strong knowledge and commitment to the craft.
Cheers Jack thanks for your time.