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Interview - Cory White / Mr Blanc

Creative People

13th July, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Friday 13th July 2012

Rohan Anderson of Whole Larder Love by Cory White / Mr Blanc

Portrait of Mat Lumasai fo Rooftop Honey by Cory White / Mr Blanc

Fashion spread for The Age Melbourne Magazine by Cory White

Fashion spread for Yen Magazine by Cory White

Portrait of Jeremy Wortsman (+ pets!) for Four & Sons by Cory White / Mr Blanc

Cory White is a Melbourne based photographer with a particular knack for spontaneous, fly-on-the-wall style portraiture... he has some super cool fashion and editorial shoots to show for himself, but I must ADMIT the project of his which I am loving the most is his excellent side project - Mr Blanc.

Mr Blanc is a self initiated project which allows Cory to document 'passionate and talented men of all descriptions'. A blog-style website featuring generous photo essays and words (some by Cory, some by collaborator Raynor Peirce), Mr Blanc sits somewhere between The Selby and Smith Journal.   The Selby because of Cory's candid, documentary style, and Smith Journal because, well, essentially Mr Blanc is a celebration of the quintessentially Australian creative bloke.

Amongst Mr Blanc's subjects are many local creatives who you're likely to know - Rohan Anderson of Whole Larder Love, creative agent Jeremy Wortsman, designer Greg Hatton and a bunch of other clever local chaps, from tattooists to beekeepers and everything inbetween. It is SO worth a visit and a bookmark - do pop by and have a look!

Aside from his photographic work, Cory also directs beautiful short films / TVCs with production company Mr Smith - check out a few shorts here. Must say I couldn't help but chuckle a little at the subject matter - between clients Keep Cup and Movember we're talking serious Melbourne hipster heaven. (Coffee, fixed wheel bikes, tattoo-covered rockabilly dudes). No disrespect at all - I heart hipsters(!!), and Cory captures his subjects so perfectly!

Cory's impressive client list includes Wrangler, Levis, Elwood Clothing, Oakley, Quicksilver, Holden, Schweppes, The Age Melbourne Magazine, Yen Magazine, Rolling Stone, Dumbo Feather and Broadsheet.

When he's not shooting, Cory is a bit of a nature / surf loving type - he has a real affinity with the great outdoors, and this is so evident in his personal work. He considers himself a 'lucky bastard' to have such a great job!

Can you tell us a little about your background – what did you study, and what path led you to photography?

I learned how to process images in my home darkroom when I was a wee kid and became photographically self sufficient by age 13. My childhood hobby morphed into an obsession and later a professional desire where I would shoot, process and print photos in my backyard garage that we had converted into a darkroom. I even lived out there for a while with a door between my bedroom in the converted garage that was attached directly to the darkroom. I loved it. It was an awakening. Perhaps the smell of developer and fixer affected me while I slept!

I have a degree in politics and criminology from Melbourne University, which I never really pursued as after graduation I enrolled into a year-long photographic TAFE course at RMIT. It was here that I learned to hone my skills and was given practical on-the-job experience from the best in the business, which eventually led to paid gigs. Now that’s my kinda study!

What have been one or two favourite shoots/clients in recent years?

I had a great time in Hawaii earlier this year shooting for a lifestyle advertising campaign for a major international cruise liner outfit. The days off were particularly enjoyable, especially cruising around the stunning island of Kauai in a rather obtrusive red two-door Jeep Wrangler with my producer where we coordinated our outfits and wore matching Hawaiian shirts, linen pants and fluoro neoprene sunglasses straps. It was very Magnum, P.I.

I'm also very lucky as I get to meet and work with some amazing folks on-the-job, such as Aboriginal guru Geoffrey ‘Gurrumul’ Yunupingu for a Dumbo Feather shoot. Getting access to photograph a man of that ilk is really quite amazing.

portrait of Geoffrey Gurrumul for Dumbo Feather by Cory White
And what about Mr. Blanc? There is something a little mysterious about Mr. Blanc! When and how and why did this project come about?

Mr. Blanc was a project that originally began as a website to showcase the many talents of the creative people I was constantly surrounded by either for work-related or social purposes. The website grew quite quickly and the decision to make it purely about men was an attempt to give it a more substantial direction. The premise has survived and still remains intact, which is to photograph and interview men with a passion, be it a craft, a hobby , a musical or literary pursuit , anything really , as long as it’s a guy and he loves what he does. Mr. Blanc is about reminding yourself that it is possible to wake up every day and not dread going to work. I have been blessed to meet and continue to meet some incredibly positive and interesting men that inspire me.

Portrait of Greg Hatton by Cory White / Mr Blanc

Portrait of Rohan Anderson of Whole Larder Love by Cory White / mr Blanc
What does a typical day at work involve for you?

If I'm not shooting I have numerous 'chores' (as I call them) that require my attention other than taking photographs. I'm blessed to have work with SAMIAM, an amazing agency and production company based in Sydney where I spend a lot of time chatting with my producer Adam (who is like a really good looking version of Bear Grylls) about jobs on-the-go, jobs we’re quoting or pitching for, and bullshitting each other with exaggerated surfing tales. Other than that, as my lady laments, I just drink coffee. Sometimes I work on my website, personal projects and new prints.

A shoot day usually starts relatively early and involves a fair amount of pre-production and keeps me busy enough that I feel like I've been doing CrossFit all day (I've never done CrossFit on that note). I actually find making/taking images quite addictive. It's not rocket science but it's definitely a demanding profession and I feel sickly satisfied when I'm doing it. Sometimes I honesty feel like I ‘need’ to take a good photo.

Fashion for Yen Magazine by Cory White
Can you name for us 5 resources across any media (i.e. 5 specific magazines, websites, blogs or other) which you visit regularly for a bolt of creative inspiration, or just to be kept in the loop!?

No huge secrets here, but I'm not claiming to be the next neo-scenester blog pioneer. Here are my picks for six of the best (count that as a freebie!).

1. American Suburb X – This photographic website/blog is my computer's homepage and has become a daily must-visit.

2. Foam Magazine – Foam comes straight out of Amsterdam and publishes photography analyses at their best. Check out their gallery if you are ever in the Dam!
3. PORT Magazine – An exceptional men's magazine.

4. Interview Magazine – This is a no brainer. Interview is one of the originals, it's simple and publishes classic portraits. Thankyou Andy Warhol (who founded the magazine in 1969).

5. Monocle Magazine – Inspiration and education in one. More words than images. It's sometimes nice to take a break from over-saturation of photography.

6. Cabin Porn – Don't worry, it's not what you are thinking, it’s a great site that simply lists images of cabins in remote locations. Places I'd rather be.

Which other photographers, stylists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

Here are a few of my regular photographic look ups. All have their own unique style. Some current, some classic.

1. Todd Hido
2. William Eggleston
3. Joseph Szabo
4. Alasdair McLellan
5. Ed Templeton

What are you most proud of professionally?

My ability to survive in the unruly photographic industry and still be progressing and happy. There ain't many jobs out there that could offer me this satisfaction.

Meredith, Australia by by Cory White
What would be your dream creative project?

Someone funding Mr. Blanc and an opportunity to travel the world creating a hardcover edition large enough to encompass an inspiring man from every country.

What are you looking forward to?

The birth of my little girl in a couple of months and taking more photos. That and some sleep (which I don’t think will go hand in hand with a newborn!). Oh and finishing my bathroom renovation and soaking in a the bath with a beer.

Frozen Banana, Balboa Island, USA by Cory White

Melbourne Questions

Your favourite local neighbourhood and why?

St Kilda. I've always been a sunny side guy. As much as I love our fair city of Melbourne, and the fruits of the north, I always come back to St Kilda for its salty air and its musical history. It isn't as fashionable as the north but it has definitely got soul.

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

I don’t really buy photographic goods in this city. Everyone knows the USA is the place. I buy magazines from the Carlisle Street newsagency in East St Kilda, books from Readings on Acland Street and I try to by a record or two from Greville Records every now and then. To be honest I'm not a huge consumer. I prefer to waste my money on other things like wetsuits , surfboards, rolls of film and overpriced danish cots!

Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

A couple of recent highlights include: Kingfish carpaccio at En Izakaya on Carlisle Street, Balaclava; Slow-roasted beef cheek at Ilona Staller, Balaclava; And my favourite breakfast dish, the potato rosti with extra fried egg and crispy bacon at Batch, also on Carlisle Street. That being said, my lady cooks a mean fish taco. I attribute her taco mastery to those prior years she spent in sunny California.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Probably surfing somewhere in Phillip Island with the boys, bracing myself for the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean. That’s sounds manly doesn’t it?! Or eating a rosti at Batch reading the paper.

Portrait  by Cory White

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