Interview

Eve Wilson

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Friday 21st February 2014

Photo of Penelope Loorham’s house for The Design Files.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

Moody brunch story.  Styling – Paige Anderson, Photo – Eve Wilson.

Photo – Eve Wilson.

Photo of Tiffany Percy’s Mt Buller Home for The Design Files.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

Photo for Craft Christmas 2013, styling – Leesa O’Reilly, Photo – Eve Wilson.

The gorgeous Eve Wilson (and Ernest!) at Eve’s st Kilda studio and office.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

Today’s interview is a special one.  Early last year, I had the great pleasure of meeting talented local photographer Eve Wilson.  We’ve been working with her ever since.  I’m not sure how she managed to fly under our radar for so long, but as soon as we crossed paths, it was clear this would become a fruitful ongoing collaboration.  What started as a business relationship has also quickly turned into a wonderful friendship – Eve is just too easy to like!  She’s endlessly generous and thoughtful, and always upbeat!  On set, Eve also counters my own slightly hyper anxiety levels with a calm, measured approach to all that she does.  Unlike me, she never appears flustered or tense, and somehow, this innate sense of calm also translates to her beautiful work.  I feel so lucky that Eve has become not only a regular TDF collaborator, but also a great friend.

Eve grew up in Flinders, on the Mornington Peninsula.  Like all good country kids, her early years were spent exploring creeks, building cubbies, and hanging out on the beach – ‘it was the best childhood!’ she says.  But, also like many country kids, after hitting her teens, Eve was itching for more.  She moved to Melbourne at 18 to study photography at RMIT, and has never looked back.  Mind you, she’s still very fond of both worlds, and with her husband Johnny and much loved dog Ernest in tow, she relishes the opportunity to head back to the Peninsula whenever she gets the chance.

Eve is an incredibly versatile photographer.  We love her crisp, luminous interiors, food and lifestyle shots, and yet, when it takes her fancy, she’s more than capable of producing a dramatic, moody shoot too!  Following a long apprenticeship with respected local photographer Stuart Crossett, with whom she still shares a studio in St Kilda, Eve has a level of career experience and maturity beyond her years.  From Stuart I think she may also have inherited a kind of old-school and slightly perfectionist approach to her work –  she’s meticulous, and always goes the extra mile to get the perfect shot!  Her clients include Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, Inside Out, Craft Victoria, Broadsheet and various design agencies and lifestyle brands – and, of course, us!

It’s with great pleasure that we introduce Eve and her work to you today, so next time you see her name on a caption around here, you’ll know who we’re talking about!  She’s definitely one to watch!

Tell us a little about your background – what did you study, did you always want to be a photographer, and what path led you to the kind of work you’re doing now?

My family are all pretty creative even if they don’t all make a living from it. My pop was a photographer in England so I remember always being somewhat interested in photography, but not actively until I started high school. Strangely, my Mum – who has no photography background – taught me how to develop film and print my own photos in the darkroom at the local school where she teaches environmental studies?! And I remember just hanging out to start Photography classes at high school, but they made you wait until year 10 until you could actually enrol in them! We had great facilities at Toorak College and I remember spending hours in the dark room during VCE – ignoring all my other subjects.

I then went off and studied at RMIT (with a bit of traveling in-between). RMIT was great, but I don’t think I really truly began to understand the professional side of photography until I started working at Big Studio. It was such a great learning experience working with Stuart Crossett on some amazing advertising campaigns. I learnt so much about producing big budget shoots. Even though that’s not the path I’ve taken with my own photography, learning both the technical aspect and business side from Stuart was invaluable. I’ve also become part of the family there – it’s been eight years since I first started at the studio, and now I share the space for my own work.

How did you first start out in the industry, and what eventually led you to going out on your own?

I was Stuart Crossett’s assistant straight out of uni in 2006, which was such a perfect job to kick off with. I was so lucky to get that gig, as being a full-time assistant in Melbourne is almost unheard of.

I assisted for five years, which is a long time to be in that type of role. After that, it was a ‘now or never’ moment so – with a bit of a push from Stuart – I stopped assisting and started shooting for myself. Luckily I was able to stay on at Big Studio as a photographer in my own right.

Big Studio – Eve’s shared st Kilda workspace. Photo – Eve Wilson.
You were Stuart Crossett’s photography assistant for five years before going freelance on your own. How important were these definitive years in your professional development, and what advice would you to give to those looking to pursue photography professionally?

So important! I think it’s more important than a university degree. Uni was great but working with Stuart was such a huge learning curve. The thing that stood out from the start was how much work goes in to the production of the shoots, and I think the work ethic you need to make a living out of it. Being a creative I think it’s easy to overlook the professional side of things and you don’t get taught that at uni. That’s something that only comes with time and experience.

I think the best thing for anyone wanting to shoot professionally is to assist. Find some people who you admire and see if you can go along and help out… you’ll find out pretty quickly if you like it or not!  Uni was still really worthwhile and in the three years you get to learn invaluable techniques and use great equipment and studio spaces that are an essential stepping-stone.

How would you describe your approach to photography, and what influences the style of your work?

I always thought I was very relaxed in my approach but I have heard differently! Apparently I can be quite meticulous and slightly anal. I think that’s probably a good thing though?!

The biggest influence for most photographers is light, especially natural light, the way you can manipulate sunlight to create different moods, and that’s certainly the case for me. One light source, the sun, can be transformed to evoke so many different emotions.

The Smith, Prahran. Photo – Eve Wilson.
Can you give us an insight into the day in the life of Eve Wilson? What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Hmm, this is tricky because I’m always doing something different.

I’m very strict on myself to stay disciplined and I’ve always gone to the studio every day even when I was starting out and not very busy. I like the routine and even when there’s not much happening there’s always things that can be done… test shoots to organise, research to be done and also just getting in and having a chat with the other guys at the studio. There is a lot to be gained from just being present.

Thankfully my workload is increasing to the point where most days differ depending on the job. I could be on location shooting, in the studio, on my computer, running around town going to meetings and running errands. It never ends!

A shoot day may start early, heading to the studio to pick up gear before going off to wherever the location is that day, then it’s usually back to the studio for some processing. There’s a lot of time spent before and after the actual shoot that often gets over looked, some days I spend the entire day processing files, emailing, meeting with clients, organising equipment, battling with my computer etc.

Eve at her st Kilda studio.
What are your top five resources across any media that you visit regularly for a bolt of creative inspiration, or just to be kept in the loop?

Seriously, The Design Files is my number one of course! And I’m so lucky because not only do I get to read TDF, but I get to meet so many of these amazingly creative people that give me so much inspiration. I love the variety of the creative industries and all the stories of where people have been and where they are going.

Emma’s Design Blog always leads me to interesting places.

I cannot get past the aesthetic of the Scandinavian photographers, stylists and designers so I’m always getting lost down the rabbit hole there, and regularly visit the folios and blogs of Pia Ulin and Lotta Agaton.

And Pinterest, which I love for a hit of inspiration while surfing the web, it always delivers!

Details from Eve’s desk at her st Kilda studio.  Photo – Eve Wilson.
Which other local photographers, stylists or creative people are you loving by at the moment?

Sean Fennessey, who you all know! He has such a great style, so different from my own, which I think is what I find attractive.

I think Andrea Moore has such a wonderful eye for design, her Instagram is always so beautiful.

And then I have always loved Sharyn Cairns and her beautiful way with light – she is also SO lovely and has given me some great advice over the years.

What are you most proud of professionally?

I think the fact that I can say that I am doing what I love and making a living out of it! I know a lot of people who are my age and realising that they don’t want to be in the career that they chose 10 years ago, whereas I feel like I’m just at the beginning!

Other than that, seeing my work in publications that I have admired and read for so many years is a real buzz.

Interior shoot for Inside Out magazine. Styling – Leesa O’Reilly, Photo – Eve Wilson.
What would be your dream creative project?

A book! I’m hanging out to shoot a cook book. I work with a few fantastically creative food and prop stylists and I think we’d do a cracking book together!

What are you looking forward to?

We have a new kitchen coming at our studio that I cannot wait for, I think my food stylists will be even more excited than I am!

We’ve been making some small changes this year to our studio for the first time in over 20years (!!), so it’s nice to see the studio getting a bit of a facelift.

I’m also off to the Sates in June with my husband and looking forward to getting back to New York for some inspiration!

Photo of Penelope Loorham’s house for The Design Files.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

MELBOURNE QUESTIONS

Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

Abbotsford! I love the Convent, Children’s Farm and the Yarra trails – you could be anywhere. It’s inner city but also is such a little secluded pocket, and I think it helps even out my torn city/country heart.

Where do you shop in Melbourne for the tools of your trade?

A lot of my equipment comes from online. B&H is the most amazing supplier of all photo and video equipment.

In Melbourne for repairs and camera maintenance Camera Clinic in Collingwood, Vanbar, and Borge Imaging are my regulars for small bits and pieces.

What and where was the last great meal you had in Melbourne?

I could go crazy on this one. There’s so many great meals in Melbourne. We had a great family meal at the Builders Arms a few weeks ago, I don’t think you can go wrong with Andrew McConnell, I love all of his restaurants. Tonight we’re off to Pope Joan with our closest friends, and I’m pretty sure that is going to be my new favorite!

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Well it’s been so hot so I’ve been making an effort to get to the beach every weekend! Normally I would pop into the studio for a few hours of catch-up after a walk with my little family (my husband Jon and our dog), and if I’m lucky breakfast at my local café ‘Cheerio’ on Lennox Street in Richmond.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

The trail walks along the Yarra in and around Abbotsford. When we got our dog Ernest we discovered these, and they are so amazing you could be anywhere. There are kilometres of them and there’s hardly anyone on them!

Kenko Kitchen shoot for The Design Files.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Friday 21st February 2014

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