Studio Visit

Jason Busch

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
4th of March 2011
Wellington House, photos by Jason Busch, stylist Megan Morton.
Wellington House, photos by Jason Busch, stylist Megan Morton.
Puri Wulandari Resort Bali, photos Jason Busch.
House designed by Robert Mills Architecture.  Photo - Jason Busch, stylist - Megan Morton.
Signature staircase by Robert Mills Architecture.  Photo - Jason Busch, stylist - Megan Morton.

To say I have been waiting for a LONG TIME to interview Sydney-based photographer Jason Busch is an understatement.  I gave him these interview questions last May.  This week, he responded.  :)  But you know what, he is totally forgiven because he is a) supernice, b) supremely talented and c) one of the busiest interiors photographers in the business.

SO Mr Busch we are very grateful to FINALLY share your work on The Design Files!

I have met Jason only a handful of times, but the impression I get is one of focussed, measured composure - there's never any fuss or stress when Jason is shooting, he just seems to have a kind of universal calming influence on every job!  He's not really 'laid back' - he's just calmly, quietly confident. The result, of course, is an impressive portfolio of work that is effortlessly observational in the truest sense - you feel no sense of Jason's presence in the rooms he photographs (or the work of a stylist, for that matter)... instead, when viewing these shots, you simply 'see' what he sees.  SO much cooler than having a signature photographic 'style'... don't you think?  It's like cooler than cool.  To be a completely invisible photographer!

Jason's beautiful work has been published in major interiors magazine both here and abroad, including Vogue Living, Elle Decoration UK, Harper's Bazaar,  Inside Out, Donna Hay, and Living Etc.  Jason shoots some of the most beautiful homes in Australia, and also loves the opportunity to travel and shoot resorts in Bali, the Maldives, and the Seychelles.  Recently Jason has also joined forced with long term collaborator Megan Morton to create Room Images - an exclusive image library, scoured by magazine editors across the globe when hunting for their next best-selling home story!  It's a first for Australia, and the logical next step for this prolific pair!

Big thanks to Jason for his time with this interview, and sharing his beautiful work.

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I grew up watching my father in the dull red glow of his homemade darkroom, conjuring up images onto the blank pages hung to dry next to the lines of negatives pegged on the shower rail. I loved this time and in turn the process. I also realised that photography gave me an excuse to find out about the things I was interested in and this has stayed with me and continues to motivate my work today.

Where might we have seen your work?

My work can be seen in magazines – most of the interior glossies mags and I have photographed 5 books including ‘Apartment Living’ with Jenna Reed Burns, and my latest ‘True Form’ with Peter Fudge Gardens which has been a rare project, a commission assignment and a daily joy to be in amongst his beautiful gardens. I am lucky enough to have a mixture of clients in some great destinations including some of my favourite island hotels in the Maldives, Seychelles, Indonesia which have been a treat to work on - great people and beautiful architecture and landscape. It's commercial work but for most companies the brief is to sell the experience, so the focus can be more creative and offers a chance to re-interpret the standard hotel imagery.

Photos by Jason Busch for garden designer Peter Fudge and Christopher Nicholas.

It can be so hard to for emerging photographers to get noticed… was there a ‘big break’ which helped you early on in your career? What advice would you give to young photographers today?

More than a 'big break', there were moments of encouragement which were instrumental in making a career from photography - a friend buying me a handful of film when there was no money in the kitty, or a roast dinner when you're scraping together the rent. There have been moments when I have seen my first publication, first magazine cover or first book on the shelf - that is exciting and exhilarating, and yes delivering a job you are proud of is always a buzz. I think once you feel committed to the craft personally, it happens through perseverance. I do love the process of framing up an image so there was never really a option for me to do anything different work wise. I think if I was to give anyone advice it would be to do what you have a genuine love for and be persistent.

Hill End House, Photos Jason Busch, stylist Rachel Brown.
Hill End House, Photos Jason Busch, stylist Rachel Brown.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

There are really no typical days for me and I have always enjoyed a variety of work. The larger campaigns settle into a rhythm of work and there are cycles of work that happen each year, but I guess as a general rule I am up early for the light, shooting through the main part of the day then working on an edit in the evening, but that could be in a studio, a hotel, house or ship.

Tetsuya, Photo - Jason Busch.

How is your business structured..? Do you employ an assistant or other collaborators? Who takes care of the boring paperwork, bookings etc - the ‘business side’ of things?

Wife penny and I work as a partnership, she is a designer by trade and does my post production and photoshop work and generally keeps me sane. I tend to do the paperwork and business side of things, as I find there are always variations and understandings between clients and particular jobs that are negotiated along the way. In saying that, this is definitely an area of our business which could do with some improvement!

Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, local and international design trends, magazines, books or the web etc?

I am inspired mostly by people and design I get to know first hand, I love that people are working on projects in their own way, have found something that drives them to refine their skills and ideas again and again. Working outside a brief or job description, realising an idea outside of what you would expect and striving to make it happen. I think travel, innovative design in books and magazines will always be a creative influence, but the effort of original thought is always inspiring to me.

The home of shop owners David Met Nicole, photos Jason Busch, stylist Emma Cotterill
Which other photographers, artists or creative people do you admire?

I am generally in awe of the creatives I work with.  I'm inspired by the energy and love of the work, in particular stylist Megan Morton who has such great energy and can make disparate and often ordinary objects come alive in her collective compositions and eye for design. Also Beci Orpin and Raph Rashid, working together in such an original and generous way in their respective areas.  One of the great things about shooting interiors is you get to spend a day or two in peoples houses, framing up and composing each room and getting to know the people that live there.

Also photographers Narelle Autio and Trent Parke, another creative partnership and some inspiring work committed to Australian imagery.

I love the relationship typography and images have, and one of my favourites is NZ typographer Catherine Griffiths. I particularly loved her Typography in the Landscape,  a series of poems written by local artists, and rendered in large-scale, three dimensional concrete text sculptures in unexpected locations along the cityʼs urban waterfront – floating, suspended, wedged in, lying on rocks as if washed up by the sea.

A portrait of Jason's long term collaborator, Megan Morton, for Madison Magazine. Photo - Jason Busch.
What would be your dream creative project?

I have really enjoyed working on books over the last few years, as mentioned above I love the relationship typography and imagery share, so I would love to continue working on book projects that allow for a an extended series of images, to give you time and latitude to work creatively with great design…

Photos - Jason Busch / Room Images. Interior Design / styling Tonka Andjelkovic.

What are you looking forward to?

I love photographing interiors and would love to be in a position to work more in this area. I have been working with some great stylists whom I admire and love being with - as people as well as in work - which makes the prospect of taking photographs something halfway between visiting friends and working on a personal project.

I would also love to work on more projects overseas and have the opportunity to see some great interior design in cities around the world. One of the great assets of digital media and photography is that it allows for images to be seen around the world, and if this is done ethically and fairly it allows for a freedom and connection between working creatives which is very exciting. To this end I have been working with Room Images, a new image library for photographers and stylists dedicated to beautiful interiors and architecture.

Oxford House, photo - Jason Busch, stylist / interior designer Debra Cronin.

Sydney Questions –

Your favourite Sydney neighbourhood and why?

When I first arrived in Sydney I stayed with an old friend of mine in Woollahra and I have always loved the big garden and lushness of the trees and plants there.  Felt very lush and tropical and a softer environment in amongst the energy of the coast and the harbour. The water views are extraordinarily beautiful in Sydney but I kept coming back to the stillness of Woollahra.

Best bookshop in Sydney for reference books / publications?

Berkelouw and Ariel are my favourites and across the road from each other.  They have been since I moved to Sydney, always stocking a great selection of design and photography books. They are both open until 12 at night and I often go to the movies then head over for a cake and book browse.

Berkelouw has a great second hand section on the 3rd level which is always worth a forage through. I am a late starter on ‘The Selby’ book at the moment, which is great, and I'm also enjoying a book called ‘Still Life’ with photographs by Jane Ussher, which is a photographic account of Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic hut. The detail, textures and sense of history is beautifully observed.

More recently I have been going to Kinokuniya which is a little more effort to get to in the CBD, but would be the best collection of art and design books I have seen in Sydney – the people who work there are genuinely interested in the work and it shows.

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

Last meal I ate out was Bistro Moncur in Woollahra, sitting out on the balcony on a warm evening, we were told with some authority to order anything with egg and we all hoofed into the crab omelette. YUM!

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning? Most Saturday mornings I am watering or pruning my tiny patch of garden with a cup of coffee and Pete next door, catching up on what buds have opened or what critters are decimating my bougainvillea. I am quite a bad gardener but have always liked coming home to stand about umming and ahhing away in the garden.  It clears my head and makes me feel more at home. Sydney’s best kept secret?

Sydney landscape is so interesting and dynamic... One of the things I love about being here is that I am constantly finding bays, views and at times whole suburbs I didn’t know existed.  In melbourne I knew the city as a map, it all makes sense as a grid of roads.  Sydney ‘s secret to me is its slow reveal of bays and beaches.

I also like ‘The White Rabbit’ gallery which is a large collection of contemporary Chinese art. They also have a small library of art books which I particularly like. Not a secret but a great place to have a cup of green tea.

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