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Toby Scott

Studio Visit

21st December, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Friday 21st December 2012

Victor Avenue shot by Toby Scott for The Weekly Review, stylist - Sian MacPherson.

Raven St House, shot by Toby Scott for James Russell / Green Magazine, stylist - Lynda Evans.

Golden Fields, shot by Toby Scott for Est Magazine, stylist - Sian MacPherson.

Sunrise Beach House shot by Toby Scott for Real Living Magazine, stylist - Kylie Jackes.

Sunrise Beach House shot by Toby Scott for Real Living Magazine, stylist - Kylie Jackes.

I feel like it was fate when I stumbled across Brisbane based photographer Toby Scott – on Twitter, of all places. Someone I follow had re-tweeted one of Toby's tweets…and in that split second I happened to see his friendly little profile pic and description pop up in my feed – and I noticed he was a photographer. I am always on the hunt for talented and nice photographers to work with, especially in towns outside of Melbourne, so I followed the links to check out Toby's work, and I was so impressed! I was also completely baffled that he wasn't already on my radar…his shots are excellent, and so consistent – a folio full of beautiful, crisp shots of interiors, food and some portraits. He has a kind of classic, un-selfconscious style of shooting – not too much styling or fluff.  Just the way we like it!  Toby is also a dream to deal with – so lovely, so chilled, so generous with his time. It's really no wonder his star is on the rise!

Photography is a notoriously tricky field to break into, but being based in Brisbane has been a bit of a blessing for Toby so far. I am thinking he's kind of becoming the 'go to' guy in Brisbane for publications based in Melbourne and Sydney. In recent years he's found himself shooting a bunch of amazing homes and businesses for mags including The Weekly ReviewReal Living and Est Magazine – and of course for us! You might recall Toby did his home town proud with a stunning edit of pics for our Brisbane Mini City Guide back in October. He turned it around in record time too. LOVE that!

Toby recently returned from a trip to NYC where he had the opportunity to show his folio to a bunch of agencies and publications…exciting times ahead! Except I selfishly hope he doesn't fly the nest too soon, I only just discovered him!

Massive thanks to Toby for sharing his work and his story with us today…keep on keeping on Toby,  you're definitely doing something right!

 Toby Scott in his Brisbane studio.
Tell us a little about your background – did you always want to be a photographer and what initially led you to what you're doing now?

I think I was around nine or ten years of age when my parents started to notice that I was pointing out images and saying 'I want to take photos like this.'  After high school I drifted for a bit and did the usual ‘work overseas’ thing for a few years, before coming home and finally realising that taking photos is something I really felt I could, and would, always want to do.

I studied for a year before dropping out of an art college, and decided I wanted to do it on my own. It hasn’t always been easy but that’s what makes every day so rewarding, especially when things slowly start to fall into place.

You’ve recently returned home to Brisbane after spending some time in New York City, and showing your folio to some big name clients!  How did it go?

Being there predominately for work, it’s really hard not to be all consumed and enticed to go endlessly exploring such a great city. I was invited over to show my portfolio to some of my dream clients. Having the opportunity to show my work to a mix of agencies, editorial publications and art buyers was truly amazing. It’s definitely an exciting new venture, and I’ll certainly be exploring some of the opportunities that came out of it in the new year.

Catching up with some amazing local and Aussie creatives certainly made the city seem that little more special, too. The foodie scene is in full swing, and the last day in town saw me moseying the streets of Brooklyn with a good mate, hopping from restaurant to cafés, with a little whisky here and there.

Some TDF readers might recognise your name as the fab photographer who visually documented our TDF Brisbane Week not so long ago. How do you find being based up north in sunny QLD?   Does this impact on how much you have to travel for work?

Being based in Brisbane has both its advantages and disadvantages, but then again what city doesn’t? I do find myself travelling predominately down the east coast of Australia to the usual ports of Sydney and Melbourne. Travel really isn’t a big deal for me, and I think it's silly not to be willing to travel for clients and exciting projects!

Winn Lane, Fortitude Valley.  Shot by Toby Scott for The Design Files Brisbane Mini City Guide.

The Outpost store at Winn Lane, Fortitude Valley.  Shot by Toby Scott for The Design Files Brisbane Mini City Guide.
Being only 30 years of age and having such a fine tuned aesthetic, we can confidently say you are destined for big things! Do you have any tips or wisdom for emerging photographers out there who want to crack this industry?

Thank you! I really think it’s important to find your own groove. You really need to think about what it is you love taking photos of, and what makes you look through that lens everyday that puts a smile on your face. Once you know that, it will be easier to focus. Then I would suggest you go out and make a book that you’re proud of. Start making a list of all the people you want to work for and go and show it to them. Be proud to show your work and talk about it. Oh, and never let anyone say you can’t do something. I’m a strong believer in 'if you think you can do it, then that’s half the battle’. Go out, be proud and do something that makes you happy.

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

I think my two favorite shoots this year have to be some Queensland homes. These two houses were just a pleasure to shoot. The homeowners were just great and the client briefs were pretty open, and just let me do my thing.

Bisley Place for a Brisbane based architect James Russell. The homeowner Wayne was great and the day went by effortlessly. The weather was patchy, which meant there were times of just sitting it out and waiting around with some good old fashioned chats,  finishing off with a splash of bubbly in the late afternoon didn’t hurt either.

The second was a home on the sunshine coast that I shot for Real Living magazine. Annie, the owner was just lovely and the house was an absolute pleasure to shoot. Weather wise it was absolutely perfect and everything just fell into place.

Bisley Place, photographed by Toby Scott for architect James Russell, Stylist - Lynda Evans.
Can you give us an insight into the inner workings of your business? What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Most days start off with a visit to my favourite coffee shop, for a little chat with the locals. Then it really depends if I’m shooting on location or pottering about the studio. Lately, if I’m not on location I’m most likely playing around with food, furniture or editing in the studio. I love food, so it’s slowly becoming a real interest to style and shoot. The studio is usually filled with some country or blues music and you can always find my little dogs, Murray and Elvis, lounging somewhere in a corner.

Of course there is the usual business emails and paperwork, but I tend to procrastinate and manage to find something else to do instead. Most Mondays my Production Manager is in, and when we are not distracted by the internet, we are planning upcoming shoots, discussing current trends, projects and basically going over client lists and marketing. Usually we manage to squeeze in a good lunch in between all of this.

Toby's Brisbane studio.  Photo - Toby Scott.

Toby's Brisbane studio.  Photo - Toby Scott.
Can you name for us 5 resources across any media which you visit regularly for a bolt of creative inspiration, or just to be kept in the loop!?

I have to admit I am a huge Tumblr fan. I love scrolling through and getting little glimpses into different parts of the world. You can really lose yourself for hours just linking from page to page.

I'm currently enjoying flicking through Smith Journal. Excellent writing and lovely images on beautiful stock, a quality Sunday morning read.

I recently purchased a cookbook called The CheeseMongers Kitchen by Chester Hastings that has really inspired me to create some different dishes.

Garden and Gun is a gorgeous magazine and they have some great online content for everything you need to know about living in the south. Other magazines such as Est Magazine, Bon Appetit, and of course I’ll admit to owning a few copies of Martha Stewart Living!

Darling St House shot by Toby Scott for Est Magazine, stylist - Sian MacPherson.
Which other photographers, stylists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting fellow photographer Nicole Franzen when in the United States, her work is very inspiring. Locally though, I am very lucky to be surrounded by some creative friends. John Ellway a local Architectural designer, Kara Rosenlund a lovely stylist, Lynda Evans is the Creative Director of Est Magazine, and Nicole Phillips who is a whizz on the letterpress and a typographic genius.

What are you most proud of professionally?

I’m very proud of running my own business, it's not always easy, so the small achievements are pretty special. I was very proud to take my book to the US this year and be given the opportunity to show it. I put a lot of work into my folio and when you open it in front of someone and they start noticing the small details, all of a sudden the late nights and stress seem worth it.

The D Residence, shot by Toby Scott for Est Magazine, stylist - Sian MacPherson.
What would be your dream creative project?

I think with all dreams, the focus shifts and moves as you progress through life. At the moment I would love the opportunity to work on a beautiful book. There is something very charming about a gorgeous, well-published book and I think they always stand the test of time.

What are you looking forward to?

I am really looking forward to what 2013 has to offer. I have a few personal projects that are slowly coming together, and a couple of overseas trips planned that are going to be real adventures.

Detail from Anna Spiro's shop in Fortitude Valley.  Shot by Toby Scott for The Design Files Brisbane Mini City Guide.


Your favourite local neighbourhood and why?

I would have to say the Teneriffe, New Farm and the bottom end of the valley. There are some great new restaurants, cafes and shops popping up.

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

This is actually a tricky question. I find it rather difficult to get what I need when I need it here in Brisbane. My main camera/equipment supplier is actually based in the US. Dave at Capture Integration has been my go to guy for a few years now and offers great service and support.

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

I have eaten at The Survey Co. a couple of times recently and the lamb's brains stole the show both times…

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Definitely at a coffee shop and then most likely a local dog park with my little guys.

Brisbane's best kept secret?

Moreton Bay. We are so lucky to have this beautiful playground filled with amazing wildlife right on our back doorstep.

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe in Fortitude Valley.  Shot by Toby Scott for The Design Files Brisbane Mini City Guide.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email