All images by Thomas Davidson. Used with permission.
“The squeakiest wheel get the most grease.” is a lesson that photographer Thomas Davidson learned from his father. Thomas is an Australia based photographer that specializes in lifestyle portraiture. It’s worked for him–well, that combined with his emphasis on simplicity. Thomas values simple compositions, colors, and ideas that don’t overwhelm the viewer but instead make them feel like they can relate to the scene.
So far, it’s worked out pretty darn well for him.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Thomas: I have always been interested in creative mediums as a child. I did Art, Music & Drama in School. In 2009 I went on a holiday to New York and decided to purchase a DSLR and some nice glass and venture beyond a point and shoot.
I instantly fell in love with taking photos, and found myself spending more and more time taking photos, reading blogs, watching videos and fine tuning my technique. To this day I have never done a formal course in photography.
I still enjoy shooting on film here and there, some of my favourite images are shot on a Hasselblad 503cw
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into lifestyle portraiture?
Thomas: Initially I started out as a press photographer working for news ltd shooting press and live music. In my spare time I would shoot friends down the beach, in the Hills etc developing my own style, something I wanted to be known for.
I enjoy working with the two main elements of lifestyle photography. I love working with people and I love being outdoors. Working with people is always so interesting; some of my good friends are people that I have met through photography.
After a while I started getting known for my lifestyle work and booked by companies to shoot lifestyle images, which eventually led to me getting booked by big companies I wanted to work with.
Phoblographer: How did you get into the business side of lifestyle work? I’m sure there was a lot of networking involved.
Thomas: Yeah there sure was some serious networking. My dad has always said that “the squeakiest wheel get the most grease” so I have always been focused on meeting new people, finding out what I can offer them and how we can benefit from each other. I believe in referrals are the best way to new business.
I live in Perth Western Australia; a relatively small city so it’s rather competitive, so networking has been a strong business strategy to help ensure I position myself as a leader in the industry.
I’m a perfectionist and aim to give more than what’s required, when you work hard word of mouth travels.
My professional background is in business law and human resources, so I’ve got an in depth knowledge of how to work the books/accounts, which has helped me start my own business as well as help others with their own.
Phoblographer: Where do you tend to draw your inspiration for your work? A lot of it looks simple. Is there collaboration between you and a creative director of some sort usually?
Thomas: I like to keep my work relative simple in composition, less is more.
I have a few favorite photographers that have helped guide me and give me inspiration that has influenced my work. These being:
- Cam Mackie
- Chase Jarvis
- Christian Brecheis
- Jay Cassario
One site I would recommend upcoming photographers to check out is Shot Kit. It’s so good to see what other people use, their workflow and other handy hints they have.
In terms of collaboration, I like to work on my own generally. I style all my own shoots and know what I want before I start taking photos. I think this is an important factor to a shoot.
Knowing what you what out of a shoot, what the final image should look like is key. It just helps things flow and it speeds up the shoot.
I spend a lot of time location scouting so that my shoots are quick and effective.
Phoblographer: Lots of your work seems to be on the beach with natural light. What makes you want to stick to this aesthetic?
Thomas: Yes, I shoot a lot with natural light as I like to keep everything as natural as possible, I do however at times use Profoto b1s for some fill light or to recreate sunlight on dull days. You will notice in my images I use just everyday people instead of models as I want people to be able to relate to my images, as if it could be them.
I love the beach and have grown up living 300 meters away from the coast, spending most of my spare time surfing. We are so blessed in Australia to have crystal clear water and clean sand, so why not make the most of it.
Phoblographer: You’ve also got some work that’s done in the studio, but above all you put an emphasis on carefully placed colors in your scenes. Where and how did you learn to compose by color?
Thomas: It’s funny you say that, I would have to say that studio work is much harder than location. My uncle is an artist (fine art painter) I have grown up around art and culture so I guess I have absorbed a lot through that.
I like things to be precise and flow. Colors need to complement each other and add something to the subject, not take emphasis away. The placement of color can make or break a piece it’s important to tie that into the general vibe/ the aim for the final product.
Phoblographer: Where do you want your work to be in one year and how do you plan on getting it there?
Thomas: Hmmm in a year I would Ideally like to be working in Sydney or London and shooting larger scale shoots. I have a whiteboard in my office with a list of brands on it that I want to work with and I cross them off as I achieve that, so that is definitely up there.
Some of my goals for 2016 where to focus on Lighting and develop and perfect my own style and have this consistent in my work. Being able to have someone look at an image and associate a photographer with that style is so important, so that is up there.
Second would be workflow. When dealing with so many images and jobs one the go at once, it easy to get overwhelmed and unorganized in your workflow. So I will be fine tuning that.