A selection of photo’s from the 2011 Melbourne Cup. Just for fun.
Earlier this year Greek art, culture and fashion magazine OZON interviewed me about my work and future projects.
You can read the interview in greek below
Or in English here
OZ. You are one of the most recognized australian photographers. How did you decide to start your career? What about the first photograph you took?
JR. In a way, my career began as a ten year old boy, visiting new york for the first time with my family and being given a cheap point and shoot camera and a few rolls of film.
the first photo i remember consciously taking as ‘art’ was on that trip, of the statue of liberty from manhattan on a really stormy winters day. it was ominous and dark and then there was this ray of light that was popping through the clouds. for the first time i felt the desire to ‘capture the moment’ and i did.
when i got the pictures back a few days later. the picture was how i remembered it and i felt that same feeling of satisfaction that i still get today.
about 5 years later started shooting again, and pretty much haven’t stopped since then. thats 15 years ago now.
OZ. You come from a country with beautiful landscapes, large buildings and multi-national cultures. What inspires you?
JR. Im definitely drawn to the urban more so than the natural. cities really inspire me and the people that inhabit them. i love architecture and do quite a lot of architectural photography to pay the bills. i also love people and do a lot of portraiture as well for work. i like to combine them on the street to create stories about people within their environments, whether in australia or overseas. Australia, and Melbourne in particular is very multicultural and i find this intriguing to photograph. Melbourne is also a very modern city with some great architecture and very unique light.
OZ. Are you thinking of expanding your work in Europe?
JR. As i write this im currently on a train from Milan to Venice. I’ve been travelling through italy for the last month shooting personal work. Its been great, I love Europe and the depth and establishment of the history here, but then i just like to photograph the normailty of the present. I stay away from the tourist attractions and instead try to gain an understanding of the local way of life and mind frame at this point in time. as long as there are people, light and an interesting environment, i am inspired to shoot. I’d love to eventually be doing more work in Europe. Whether its fashion, advertising or anything else, I’d definitely like to expand my horizons out this way!
OZ. You are specializing in both street photography and ad campaigns. What are the main differences between them? Which one do you prefer?
JR. With street photography, i shoot it purely for myself. its an outlet for me to experiment with different techniques and abstractions. it’s also a time to be on my own and to step back from reality and into more of an an observational and meditational space. I really enjoy that time away from other commitments and obligations, its a perfect time to tune out and take a break. On the other hand though, working for clients and on campaigns is very much an essential part of being a working photographer. photography in its purist form is quite a selfish occupation so you quickly have to overcome this and learn to work close to art directors and clients, because in the end, they’re paying the bills. I think that if i shot just one or the other, i’d have no balance. When i’m working a lot, I feel like i need time to shoot for myself. When I’m not working much and shooting a lot of personal work, it’s the other way around.
OZ. Tell us a few things about the collaboration with “The Everfresh Crew” which happens to be one of Melbourne’s most notorious collective of street-artists. In general, what is your opinion about street-art?
JR. I’ve been working with the guys from Everfresh for about 5 years now. initially just sharing a studio space but as time went on i began just casually documenting the day to day life at the studio and around town. There was never any preconceived ideas when it came to the documentation but when they decided to make a book, i luckily had a lot of photos to contribute. We were al very happy with the outcome and it was great to be able to finish off a project and leave it to be able to move onto the next thing. When it comes to street art, its a bit hit and miss. if its good, I love it. If its bad, i try not to notice it. i love graffiti. tags and throw ups. all the original stuff. i’m not a massive fan of the more modern ‘street art’ movement, but sometimes I’ll see something that blows me away. good art is good art no matter where it is.
OZ. As a street photographer, you capture people in everyday moments as an outsider. Have you ever come across weird reactions or incidents that made you feel uncomfortable?
JR. If i see something on the street that i want to shoot, unless it obviously shouts ‘danger’, I’ll do my best to get a shot of it. Sometimes though you underestimate your subject matter and what can look like the least threatening of situations can often prove to be quite tricky. I’ve had a few run ins but never anything too serious. i’ve had to talk my way out of some situations, once had to destroy a roll of film, but other than that, I guess i’ve been quite fortunate. At the end of the day, I’m not trying to make anyone look bad or take the piss, i’m just trying to tell a story. As long as my intentions are pure, I feel comfortable in what I’m doing and can therefore explain myself if need be.
OZ. Your work is orientated between black’n’white and colored photography. Which one do you prefer? Do you believe that they express different things?
JR. I started out shooting black and white and then soon felt like i wanted to move into colour. i like the reality of colour. its less obscure on a basic level. its harder to obscure for that reason. black and white is obscure and abstract from the beginning if you want it to be. right now almost all i shoot is colour but i think that soon once i finish a couple of projects i’m working on, i’ll move back and play with black and white again. definitely.
OZ. Tell us a few words about your current project. What is your next step?
JR. My main project at the moment, apart from what ive been shooting in italy, is a street photography project in melbourne. i’ve been shooting it for almost 5 years now and i’m hoping to finish it up in the next few months. Its basically an abstract documentation of melbournes cbd. architecturally and socially.
OZ. Photography nowadays is getting really popular. Do you believe that everybody that takes a picture is a photographer? Talking about the element of authenticity, what is your opinion about the flickr generation, the young photographers in general and the future of photography as a profession?
JR. In some respects, its great that so many people are into photography these days. It’s an incredibly accessible medium and is also probably one of the most ‘user friendly’. I honestly think the more photographers the merrier. It’s a good thing. It helps the photography ‘brand’ so to speak. probably indirectly creates more exposure for art photography, more gallery space, more editorials and ultimately more work for the professionals.
I guess when it comes down to flickr, to be honest, I have never used it and have barely paid much attention to it. I’m not interested. I think it’s great on an amateur level, but professionally, I don’t think a photographer needs to seek the approval from his peers or fans. Art is personal and whilst appreciation is great, it seems like flickr is an avenue for kudos rather than just an outlet for purely showing one’s work.
OZ. You have photographed the likes of Nick Cave and Geoffrey Rush. Which is your favorite portrait? Tell us about your most memorable shot.
JR. Geoffrey Rush was great to photograph. I was very nervous prior to the shoot and I didn’t really know what to expect. He’s quite an overwhelming figure and probably had the potential to make or break my day, depending on his mood. He was fantastic though, from the moment we met he was interested in the shoot, what I wanted to do and more so, what he thought we should do. In the end, he basically directed and i shot it. I wasn’t going to argue. It was very cool and he was a great, funny man.