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Category Archives: Photography

Kane Skennar – Photographer

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Kane Skennar is an Australian born photographer, raised on the northern beaches of Sydney.

His strong conceptual style spans high fashion and portraiture to lifestyle, swimwear and surf labels.

Kane’s strong affinity with surf, music and travel allows him to shoot this subject matter with a sense of both authority and ease, and it is easy to see his love for these specific genres come through in his work.

I have worked with Kane on a few swimwear shoots over the years. He is definitely a master at capturing and setting up a moment that, as the end viewer of the shot, has that critical balance of being sexy, yet commercial, with a slight edge or unique point of view. I have always loved Kane’s style of work. It has a certain rawness and honesty to it – much like Kane himself.

His work has seen him travel all over the world on assignment for various magazines such as Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, Instyle, Madison, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, Belle, Men’s Health, Karen, Follow, Oyster, Black, Surfing America, Surfing World, Stab, Waves and Tracks.

Kane has also shot for major advertising campaigns such as Toyota, Motorola, Mavi Jeans, Tallow Gallery, Work Out Life, Saxony, Alias Mae, Bonds, Mikoh, Wrangler, Von Zipper, Bassike, Jeans West, Ksubi, Ksubi Eyewear, Kitsune, Jag, Davenport, Table Eight, Supre, Running Bare, Tree of Life, One Teaspoon, Yeojin Bae, 2 Chillies, Heaven, Aqua Blu, Roxy, Arnette, Reef, Quiksilver, Billabong, Insight and General Pants. Phew!

Kane currently works between both the States and Australia and is also working on a few film projects that will be exciting to see come to fruition in the not too distant future. With Kane re-locating to LA in the new year, I look forward to seeing his new body of work with the fresh inspiration and opportunity from his new surrounds.

To view Kane’s work visit – http://kaneskennar.com

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Q&A:

1) Give me a bit of a background on how you got to where you are today in the fashion photography game i.e. Did you study photography or learn on the job as an assistant? What do you think you may have been if you weren’t a photographer?

I started my journey in photography as an assistant when I was 18 and straight out of school with fashion photographer Adam Watson. He was great at body, lifestyle and swimwear and this is where I got my first experience in what it was to create images in different locations.

I stopped for a while, and then started again at 21 – assisting the late Richard Bailey who I assisted for the next 5 years where I learned and experienced what got me to where I am today.

I was also playing in a heavy rock band while I was assisting and recorded an EP and made rock videos that were on Rage, but I realized that it was a hard slog to make it in music in Australia.

2) How would you personally describe your photographic aesthetic? / do you feel this look has changed over the years as you’ve grown as a creative person?

I’d say my style is very relaxed, portrait based and always observing my subjects in a very personal way.
I like to capture images that move me and that show the deep sense of someone or a certain style. I’m sure my style has refined itself over the years but I still come from the same place visually.

3) Do you have an all time favorite photo that you’ve taken and what’s the story behind it? Do you have an all time favorite photo shot by another photographer?

Ah that’s a hard one… I have a lot of great shots that I favor still, but recently I like the shot in B/W of the subject at the bottom of the waterfall. I shot that for an exhibit for an Australian based label called Saxony. Anyway it was an exhibit image for them and I was given free reign to shoot whatever I wanted. I happened to be in Bali at the time that I wanted to shoot this, so I got a great model friend of mine (Fa Empel) who is very adventurous… We trekked 2 hrs down into the jungles high up in the north of Ubud, Bali to get this shot and it was a pretty powerful moment… I really loved the image. Especially printed at 2mx3m!

4) If you could work on any creative collaboration or job in any country in the world – what would this dream project or shoot look like?

I’d say a shoot where I got to go to some remote island or jungle to shoot either something very cinematic or grand for a fashion label or of some celebrity. I just love traveling to exotic places to create great images of people in them… It’s the processes of getting there, the person you are working with and the overall look and feel of the work that’s new, creative and breathtaking.

5) Who have been your biggest (creative or other) influences in getting you to where you are today?
i.e. Other photographers / designers / artists / editors etc.

I’d say it’s the photographers whose books I have collected and inspired me, and the people I worked for, or with for sure. (Peter Beard, Helmut Newton, Mert & Marcus, Annie Lebowitz as inspirers. Richard Bailey as my mentor and guide. Mark Vassallo as a stylist who encouraged and gave me opportunities…)

6) As a creative person – who and what inspires you? / what are you creatively passionate about? / what do you love most about your work?

I’m inspired a lot by life, travel, meeting people, looking at art, movies and books. I love to create images that feel timeless and inspiring as well! I love to just see the process in which I go on to create the images, where I travel to, who I meet, who I work with and how it is printed or published.

7) What are some of the biggest challenges that you face today as a photographer and how have you had to adapt your business as a consequence, if at all?

I’d say that the digital age has allowed so many more people into the industry and also the financial downfall of the industry and world climate has seen the cheapening of the art form and the lack of quality all round.

People are shooting things they shouldn’t be, and clients are pushing us to shoot more and more at the cost of quality. To me it seems like a disposable industry now that is more geared in Australia towards an online catalogue more then anything. The art form is really dying here for me… So seeing that – I am looking at other markets and places to work as it doesn’t seem like a very supportive industry anymore.

I’m interested to see all the young photographers who are out there at the moment make it long enough to create more then just a cool website for themselves. i.e. buying a house, car, equipment and a life! haha.

8) What do you enjoy doing in your time off?

I love to travel, surf, do yoga and eat very clean food and meet different people. I’m interested in information and life more then ever so it’s interesting to see as I get older.

9) You’ve worked with many well known models, personalities/celebrities and clients over the years – who have been some of the more interesting that you’ve shot and worked with?

Hmm – Definitely an interesting one that. I’d say Lady Gaga was really interesting as she’s so humble and quiet, but so positive and great at her art for what she has to work with.

Joel Madden was awesome. I thought he would be hard, but he was a legend. Jermaine Clement as well – one of the funniest guys in the world but also the most intelligent and musically talented. As far as supermodels go, I love working with Catherine McNeil. She is like a cat. So cool and just a great mover…

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

I’m moving to LA soon, as there’s so much more going on there and more interesting projects that I can be involved with. So I’m looking forward to that. I’m actually in LA right now and it’s very inspiring to see how much is going on here. I’ll be back in Aus for Xmas which I will enjoy, and then maybe Bali as I have some work to shoot up there as well. So I’m always moving around…

I’m shooting a documentary at the moment on a famous world champion surfer so I’m moving also into that field which is fun and I’m going to be working on some other projects that involve the movie world so that’s exciting.

I’m still enjoying shooting fashion, but I’m diversifying, as I get older!

Simon Upton – Photographer

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I first came across Simon at the Australian Institute of Sport when I was there on a swimming training camp as a young teenager. Who knew that out professional paths would cross again 15 or so years later, this time with Simon as a fashion photographer and myself as an art director/producer.

Simon was accepted into the Australian Institute of Sport at the age of 16 and spent the years 1984-1992 representing Australia at swimming, where he went on to achieve great success both in Australia and at many competitions around the world. This career culminated in his participation at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.

Towards the end of his swimming career Simon developed a passion for photography, which took him again overseas, firstly Europe, were he began working as a photographic assistant in several countries.

By 1996 Simon had moved to New York where he gained professional work with American and European magazines. After 5 years and several notable commissions, he moved back to Sydney directly after the events of September 11.

I’ve shot with Simon a few times over the years on advertising jobs for brands such as Gallaz, Dotti, Jeans West and Flamingo Sands… His work speaks for itself. Simon has a great eye for detail and also happens to be a relaxed, great guy who loves to surf, fish and travel in his spare time. He’s also a great dad to his boy’s.

In the last 10 years Simon has established himself as one of Australia and Asia’s top fashion and portrait photographers – his work featuring in leading magazines and advertising campaigns for BONDS, DAVENPORT, LOVABLE, MYER, JOCKEY, RIP CURL, OMEGA, JUST JEANS, PANTENE, L’ORÉAL, NIKON and other global brands.

Simon is known for his local and international celebrity portraiture – having photographed Christy Turlington, Renee Zellweger, Cate Blanchett, Milla Jovavich, Cindy Crawford, Eva Longoria, Fergie, Hayden Christensen, Naomi Watts and many other instantly recognisable faces.

Check out some of Simon’s latest work at simonuptonfoto.com or follow him on instagram @simonuptonpics

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Q & A:

1) At what age did you start as a professional photographer/did you always want to be a photographer/what do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t a photographer?

At 24 I started assisting a few well know photographers in Amsterdam, but had begun doing a few tests with a local model agency; I probably only assisted over a 1 year period, as was keen to begin my own work.

2) Did you study photography/or just learn on the job/teach yourself? Who were some of your greatest creative influences during this time?

I never studied it, though in high school I had a group of friends who were all pretty into it. I never really had creative influences in this early phase of my career, I was a young Australian in Europe, so everything I did inspired me, even though I had traveled already extensively as a competitive swimmer since the age of 14, having the freedom was something that was completely new, and this new found career path that seemed so fun and enjoyable. I love taking pictures, always have.

3) How would you describe your particular creative style, and do you feel it has changed over the years as you’ve grown as an artist?

My style of pictures has developed constantly and only the last few years I feel I have my distinctive look. My shoots are very non-stressful, I like everyone to have a good day, and show what they can do. I really think the collaboration is important, so getting a good team of people together for a job the key. I think you never stop learning about light and understanding it, and where the best light is is the key to my pictures. If you haven’t got it the picture won’t work.

4) What is your favorite subject matter to shoot? Do you have an all time favorite photo that you’ve shot? If so – what is it of/is there a story behind it?

I do enjoy working with celebrity’s. I find it a bit more challenging. These shoots are not just about how you work but also how you manage and communicate with people and in most instances in a very short time frame. This condensed, almost pressure cooker type atmosphere I sort of thrive in. Once you gain the trust then you are able to get that relaxed feel in your images, you are able to create images that are seen in some cases globally and garner much attention.

5) What do you love most about your job? What are the biggest challenges for you as a photographer?

I love everything about my job. There’s nothing I don’t like. An issue for me of late though has become the archiving of imagery. I’ve spent so much time compiling all my imagery of the years into a situation where I know where everything is and can be accessed. I’m probably 1/4 of where I’d like to be. Certainly the freedom of being a freelance photographer is something very important as it gives me very importantly the time with my family and in particular my 2 sons. The biggest challenge as a photographer is being able to stay at a top level. I’ve had to make plenty of decisions which I’ve felt have played a big part in this. You are only remembered by your last shoot, so everything you put out there needs to have your signature on it.

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6) You’ve just finished work on your first book… How did this inspiration come about? How long did this project take? When and where and will it be available to buy? Is this the start of many books to come?

I just finished my 1st book which will be launched in Feb 2014. It’s a photographic book on the Australian RODEO scene, all shot reportage at some of the most iconic country rodeos in SA/VIC/QLD and NSW. I had been looking at doing a book for sometime, and when on a shoot in Narrandera in outback NSW I noticed at the pub one night all these crazy images of cowboys riding bulls. I got talking to the locals and they suggested I come back to check out there RODEO. Once I had been it was obvious this was what I’d been looking to do. It has been a lot of fun and I’ve met some great people along the way. I love this country and the more I see the more I want to explore. The people are what struck me the most, as the realness and down to earth nature of all the people I met really struck a chord with me. It will be sold online (details to come), as well as in some select book stores. It’s called TOUGH STOCK. I’d certainly like to think its the 1st of many. I mean I travel constantly and have a library of many different places/cultures and topics.

7) You’ve worked with many celebrities / amazing models over the years – who have been some of the more interesting that you’ve shot?

They have all been interesting. The people I have worked with and all very different. For me working with Cindy Crawford who I have worked with quite a few times now is always fun, as she trusts me so I can therefore present to her ideas such as the lady vs. vamp shoot I did. Working with someone who is so professional and good at what they do is inspiring and models these days cannot move and act the way those big names from the 80-’s do, which I guess is why so much of the imagery around the Linda/Christy/Naomi period is timeless.

8) As a creative person – who and what inspires you?

For me light inspires me. Being at the right place and time of day and seeing the imagery that happens so effortlessly. We all experience it, I just get to capture people in it with a camera. My kids are my biggest inspiration apart from that.

9) You’ve shot all around the world … What has been the best location you’ve shot at over the years?

Too many to name… Seychelles a definite, Africa for its scenery and wildlife, Rio de Janeiro for its vibe. But for me my fave location is BROOME, Western Australia. Such an amazing place and had some really special times there on holiday with my family through an indigenous elder who has become a good friend and has shown me many amazing things and shared a big part of there culture. It really is something we are special to have in Australia.

10) What next – any other interesting projects you’d like to plug/mention/tips for young punters!?

Right now I am working quite a lot with HARPERS BAZAAR. After several years away it’s finally great to be back shooting great fashion pictures. I’m constantly on the move and have good projects happening almost weekly. The MODEL CO advertising I just shot with Rosie HUNTINGTON-WHITELEY has just come out that we shot at Hayman Island and my new BAZAAR COVER of ANTM winner Melissa Juratowitchh came out today. Apart from that I am about to leave on a 17 day surf trip (been on one every year for 10 years) through Sumatra with 8 old mates. A break I feel invigorates my soul and keeps me fresh.

Nate Smith – Photographer

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Nate Smith is one of the best surf photographers going around. His work has been published in most surf mags globally and his images never fail to draw you in and put you right there with him – either on the beach or in the water. The best surf photographers have a true love and appreciation for the ocean, with many being rad surfers themselves. It is this sixth sense that helps them read the wave and predict the next line the surfer caught in their lense is going to take.

Nate’s ability to also capture the personality and essence of the guy’s on tour is a true testament to his connection with the industry and what makes the surfers on tour tick. Like many great photographers of athletes, musicians and personalities – it is the photographers ability to get the shot and not get in the way from the subjects art form that is similarly an art form in itself.

Like the pros on tour – being a surf photographer following these guy’s around isn’t a bad gig if you can get it. I hit Nate up with a bunch of questions below to find out what his vibe was on both his work and the industry.

To really make you feel like you wish you were on holiday – take a look at some of Nate’s work here…

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My name is Nate Smith, I live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney which for those who don’t know is about a 30 minute drive North of Bondi. The waves in my area are generally pretty fun. I’m a full time Photographer who shoots all things Surf and its Lifestyle. I have just recently become freelance after about a 15 year stint with one of Australia’s leading Surf Publications, and the feeling of now being able to shoot for a few different magazines and get the creative juices flowing a touch more is awesome. I live right across the road from a really cool little stretch of beach, it’s quiet and great for chilling. I live with my beautiful girlfriend Jodey-Alice and my Cavoodle Puppy we call Bronx, life is really cool at the moment. Travel, art, meeting people and getting outdoors are all things that I really enjoy… Oh, and sleeping, I really like this.

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Q & A:

1) You’ve carved out a real niche for yourself as one of the best surf photographers in the world. How did your job come about – or was it just something that you fell into? / What is the key to getting that ultimate shot?

Ah, to be considered one of the better guys out there shooting Surf and its lifestyle is really cool, although I don’t buy into that too much, so thank you. I just like taking images and doing what i do, surfing is a really nice life style and its taken me to some amazing destinations which leads to you to some great photos. I’ve worked really hard to get myself into the position I’m in at the moment but I really think my best is yet to come. Getting the ultimate shot is something that I believe comes by paying attention and knowing what it is your after and knowing how to get it.

2) Did you always want to be a surf photographer? / Did you study photography? / What’s the best job (ie. most creative/fun/biggest project/surf trip) that you’ve worked on to date and why?

I got into photography via surfing in contests. I did this for a fair while at a good level, won a couple of events until an injury put me out for 6 months. I started shooting photos to kill time and didn’t stop. So here I am! I’m self taught. And the biggest funnest surf trip was many years ago with Quiksilver. We shot Young Guns 2, had a really big boat and a helicopter strapped to the roof of the boat for two weeks; not to mention guys like Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson, Ry Craike and Dane Reynolds among many others. That was purely an extravagant trip by Quik.

3) You’ve met and worked with all of the best surfers in the world. Do you have a favorite surfer to shoot? What’s your all time favorite photo (that you’ve shot) and what’s the story behind it?

No, i dont really have one in particular surfer to shoot, they are all really good on their day. Some guys are slightly better than others but above all they are all great. Just depends on where and what the waves are doing and who you have to shoot. Obviously guys like Kelly, Dane, Julian are great but then there are guys who live in Sydney like Kai Otton, Luke Stedman, Nathan Webster – all of whom I dig shooting.

4) If you could work on any creative project – what would that look like?

Ah good question… well if money was not an issue, I’d say a wave pool scenario which has not yet been made although I believe we are not far off … would be the thing I’d have set up. A stadium like set up with a dome roof that could open and close, a program to set your waves to your liking, and a multitude of different angles above and below the water that i could shoot from under all sorts of lighting conditions ranging from natural, to artificial etc.

5) Who have been your biggest (creative or personal) influences in getting you to where you are today? / who are your creative heroes? / What are you creatively (or ethically) passionate about?

My biggest influences when I first started in the surf game were and still are guys like Ted Grambeau, Bill Morris, Chris Van Lennup, Scott Aichner, Jeff Divine, Art Brewer, Aaron Chang, Jeff Hornbaker… Outside this, I’d say Dave LaChapelle, Annie Leibovits, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, Craig Stecyk 111 and Steve Sherman, ah there are so many I really admire but anything these people have done I’m into seeing. As for what I’m passionate about, well basically trying to take the best shot I’ve ever taken every time I shoot.

6) Camera equipment and technology has changed dramatically over the years. How has this changed how you shoot? / do you feel this technology has assisted you and your work creatively?

Well when I first started it was all film and manual. You had to learn from a roll of 36, not a 64 gig card and auto which ALOT of people do nowadays. I am really thankful that I started when I did, there were people around that cared about what you shot and how you shot it so you actually got to learn a lot from that. It was much slower and way more expensive but what you did shoot was usually way more rewarding when you got it right. With digital it’s all instant, people want gear yesterday! So that demand is really full on. The desire for content daily is huge and I’m a believer of quality over quantity, so the whole digital thing is a tough one. The digital process can be really great and it’s all I use now, but there really wasn’t anything wrong with film and that whole set up. Digital hasn’t landed on its feet as yet I think, so we are seeing a decline in print over digital content yet the price of imagery has gone down for the photographer yet the gear expense has gone through the roof. Clients do not want to pay for quality and a general “ah that will be ok, it’s good enough ” mentality is really noticeable.

7) You’ve surfed all around the world. Do you have a favorite surf break?

Yes, i think anywhere in Sumatra is heaven on earth. Warm water, fun to solid waves, boats, mates and really healthy food all make for a great place to surf and hangout.

8) Any career tips that you can also pass on to other aspiring action sports photographers? What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? / What are the biggest challenges that you face in your line of work?

My advice is something I get asked a lot now, so all you kiddies out there dreaming of a Surf Photographers job, get a back up job, a trade or a uni degree cause there is a good chance at some point you will need it. This industry is very small, tight and fickle. But in saying this, the advice I was given by a mate and former photo editor Lee Pegus was, its a long hard road but don’t give up. My challenges range from sharks, sunburn, bluebottles, excess baggage fees, pro pain, boredom…. but the positives are greater!

9) What’s your life motto?

Work Smart not hard, or actually both.

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

I have recently just gone freelance after working with Tracks Magazine for the best part of 15 years. I had some really fun times and highly rewarding times with that mag, but its time for change. Time to work with different mags and spread my wings. I’d really like to do two things, a series of photos of the homeless people from around Sydney and another series on the Sydney Skyline. After visiting NYC last year I have come back with fresh eyes for how beautiful our own city is.

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