Jeepers creepers could we possibly have ANY more brilliant photographers in Australia?! I mean seriously. I feel as if I discover ANOTHER insanely talented photographer almost every week! This week’s find – Melbourne-born photographer James Geer!
James began his professional career as a graphic designer in 1997, but it didn’t take him long to trade in his computer for a camera! (Good move!) He assisted for a while, and then came a stint in NYC – a rite of passage for many Australian photographers it seems…? James returned to Melbourne in 2003 and has since built up an impressive portfolio of work with an unmistakably ‘Australian’ feel. I can’t put my finger in it… but he really does seem to have a knack for capturing his subjects in the most relaxed, carefree way – perfectly described by his agent Kirstie Gadsden as ‘quintessentially Australian’. (…the beach and all those golden sunkissed bodies certainly help him out there!)
James is a true all rounder, with an impressive collection of work which covers interiors, as well as quirky portraits and his signature relaxed style of fashion photography. His clients include Levis, Fairfax, Nike, Hermes, Quicksilver, Roxy, Monster Children, Sneaker Freaker, and Habitus. And because I know you love all the little personal details (me too!!), he’s 34, has two young kids, and moved back from NYC in the end for his beloved blue heeler – still hanging in there at 18yrs of age!
Thanks so much for James for his time and beautiful shots, and to his agent Kirstie for facilitating this interview! James is represented by Viviens Creative Management.
Tell us a little about your background – did you always want to be a photographer? What path has led you to what you’re doing now?
As a kid I was always interested in art, my mum would let me take time off school to go to the gallery with her. I still remember the Pop art Exhibition 1985, Picasso, 1981, Joan Miro….
From about 16 I would always have a camera on me documenting all the parties, surf trips, girls, skating and hanging out that was going on.
I studied Graphic Design at the National School of Design and worked as a designer for a few years before realizing it was not for me, so I took a job as a photographic assistant. Went to NYC to get serious, stayed for 3 years and came back with a fresh book and a healthy dose of ambition.
What have been some of your favorite shoots / clients in recent years?
Shooting Rose Byrne was a dream, it is great to work with people who can take direction and make it there own.
I am often commissioned to photograph the spaces of professional creatives. Shooting Julia DeVille‘s studio for Habitus magazine was pretty different. Nick Cave played all day and every now and then the doorbell would ring and someone would drop off a dead animal of some sort, a mouse, a kitten, even an ostrich.
There are so many brilliant photographers in Australia, it can be really hard for emerging photographers to get noticed and get their first ‘big break’ – what practical advice would you give to emerging photographers who are just starting out?
Shoot what you love, don’t follow visual trends, have a relationship with your work and support each other, the rest will follow.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Thankfully there’s no such thing, but a good day starts with a cup of strong, black tea, some time with my beautiful family, showing up to a inspiring location with a great team and letting the creative process unfold. The real buzz comes at the end of the day when you realize that you have created something better than you could have planned, even more beautiful than what was expected.
Where do you turn for creative inspiration – books, international magazines, the internet, your environment, travel, nature, family or friends… etc?
Mother Nature, her colour combinations, the ocean, and sunlight.
Which other photographers, designers, or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
What would be your dream project?
Something on an warm island, capturing the beauty and ritual of an undiscovered tribe of ocean worshiping natives.
What are you looking forward to?
My trip to Indonesia with my family, no computers, no phones, just banana pancakes, warm water and cold beer.
Exhibiting my most recent project, a series of abstract photographs….. stay tuned!
Your favorite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
Mordialloc, for the creek, filled with old timber picnic boats and Pompy’s boat building yard right on the banks.
It truly is a slice of Melbourne maritime history.
Your favourite bookstore in Melbourne for reference books and inspiration?
The Avenue Bookstore, Albert Park, it has a great little nook up the back and the best burger joint across the road.
Where / what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
Lamb shoulder, Cumulus inc.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
I could tell you but I’d have to kill you.