How have you been navigating working during lockdowns and restrictions? Can you tell us about your ‘Iso shoots’, how do you find working in this way?
Since I work primarily with hospitality and lifestyle businesses it’s been extremely difficult with their closures and restrictions. Since April I’ve probably only had 5-7 jobs. I’ve mainly been shooting restaurant takeaway options and updating their products on their websites. I luckily had a shoot with Gourmet Traveller just as Melbourne lockdowned so was lucky to squeeze some jobs in quickly. Since stage 4 lockdown, photographers are not legally allowed to shoot anywhere except their home, which has been limiting but I’ve forced myself everyday to shoot a new object. It started with a beetroot and evolved into anchovy tins to my lovely partner. I’ve played around with a few things that I normally wouldn’t normally do and have had fun experimenting. Recently I’ve been shooting two fun wine brands – Not Wasted and DITC Wine all in my home which is a small apartment in the city and I have to try to find new ways to shoot similar products. I don’t mind shooting at home, but it’s definitely more lonely as you’re used to working with a stylist or collaborating with a loudmouth chef.
Can you tell us about any personal projects you have been working on during the Pandemic?
I have been shooting an object a day, whether that’s a spoiled fruit, a wine bottle or my partner. It started out of pure boredom but actually pushed me to create new scenarios in a tiny apartment. I also was funded by a grant from City Of Melbourne for artists affected by Covid and I did a photo essay project called ‘Invisible’ which documented the lives of the immunosuppressed. I gave 10 Melbourne people a disposable camera and asked them to document their week in isolation. You can view the work here www.sissyscreens.com/photography/invisible-project/
What are your favourite sources of inspiration?
The Gourmand, Ambrosia Magazine, Stephanie Somebody, Gourmet Traveller, sublime jpg, Sometimes Always,Hattie Molloy, Saskia Wilson, Jolie Laide, Morso Food, Modern Times, Derek Swalwell, Amelia Stanwix, Alana Dimou, Petrina Tinslay and Luke Gilford.
Do you have a routine or certain mindset that helps you produce your best work?
I feel I always produce my favourite works when there is no set brief or idea, I really have to be in the mood and have no restrictions. I always find playing around and shooting silly things to inspire me. I find if I push myself or I’m not in the mood, I create boring or contrived work. The only routine I currently have in lockdown is coffee and yoga in the morning. Pre-pandemic, I love to create moodboards or save work that I find inspiring. As of late I have about 20 sheets of loose paper with ideas that I’ve scrambled down. I am very disorganised and my notes section in my phone would give anyone a heart attack.
If you were to describe your favourite thing to photograph, what would it be and why?
Wine and my partner Agatha. I like to drink wine with her. It’s a win win. I’m obsessed with wines and specifically sustainable winemaking and love shooting bottles. I really love the shadows I create with my hard light and when the light hits the liquid and creates little speckles. Pre-Covid I loved shooting chefs cooking and the more behind the scenes images that are completely candid and nuanced. Photographing a chef who loves his work and is passionate about good food! I am really drawn to stories and where produce comes from.
As someone who works independently, what is some advice you would give yourself 5 years ago?
I would probably tell myself to be better at financing and saving money, get used to people not paying on time and be extremely resourceful and constantly reach out to photographers and stylists etc to look at your work / ask for advice. I would tell myself to be more confident in your work and stick to your gut. There have been certain situations where I haven’t voiced my opinion and then haven’t been happy with the work I’ve produced. It’s a fine line between the client’s goal and your aesthetic. An example is I was on a shoot for a big brand and the stylist and I weren’t happy with the direction the client wanted to go and in our lunch break quickly shot a few images that were more in tune with our vibe and when I sent the images to the client they ended up picking the shots that we were messing around and having fun with. Just showed me to stick to my gut and don’t sway too far away from your vision.