For our first interview from our new series 'Creatives', we caught up with Perth based photographer Peter Hayes
. The new series aims to have conversations with creatives in and around Australian and New Zealand independent fashion. Highlighting unique view points from a variety of creative perspectives.
We did just that when we caught up with Peter, discussing how he got into photography, how he began shooting for a number of larger and local brands and got his perspective and advice on shooting fashion photography.
Paired with the chat is some of Peters incredible work.
TNB: Hey Peter, we are big fans of yours, so thanks for being our first interview in our new series! Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what do you do?
P: Thanks for the kind words! I’m a huge supporter of TNB, so it’s great to be here! To kick it off, my name is Peter Hayes, and I am a fashion photographer based in Perth, Western Australia. I feel so grateful to do what I love every day and to chat about it with you guys now.
TNB: How did you get into photography and when did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
P: Growing up, I was given a point and shoot camera to keep me busy and after a few months playing around with it, I fell down the rabbit hole. Throughout high school, I spent a lot of time in the darkroom, developing 35mm and experimenting with film, and nabbing the photography prize for year 12.
When it came to my first camera and getting into photography out on my own, I ended up buying an old 35mm SLR to experiment with and learn how to interact and photograph people more and more. With that camera I shot my friends, a lot of skateboarding on the weekends and some family too. Skateboarding was a huge part of my youth and was the first thing I began shooting repeatedly.
It was also during this time when I knew photography was something I couldn't live without, and had to pursue further. After using this SLR more and more it came time to make the transition to some digital work. I found it really freeing in what I could do with a RAW file in post. I experimented a lot with editing and began picking up a few photography units, and continued learning photography in the classroom. Then by doing more shoots with friends and some of their labels in my own time, I was able to experiment with photography and further develop my own style. The more shoots I did, the less time I wanted to spend studying or doing anything else.
It got to a point late last year after some of my first big fashion shoots I looked into the idea of taking some time off Uni to continue to shoot and pursue something I had always wanted to do. So that's what I did, leaving studying I decided it was time to build a portfolio and continue making and strengthening my industry relationships.
TNB: Do you have a personal photography style that guides how you shoot?
P: Yes and no for sure, as a lot of the way I shoot can depend on who I am working with or what project I am working on. Definitely fashion photography as the overall bracket and style of how I shoot. But a lot of what is in my everyday inspires me and impacts how I shoot, a lot of my street style photography comes from skateboarding and spots in the CBD I use to skate at myself. Perth itself is a pretty interesting place too, you can drive 40 minutes out the city and be in a quiet almost deserted feeling place. There are so many interesting small towns and stops when driving out of the city. It can make you think about a different era in time. Or even about a deserted futuristic place too. A lot around the everyday where I live, movies I watch, music I listen to and other art I see impacts a lot in how I shoot.
However, coming from a background first learning photography on film makes a difference in how I shoot today. I spend a lot more time setting up shots and interacting with the subject and setting before I begin taking a photo. This comes a lot from film and taking more time setting up a shot to make the most of the limited roll.
If I had to draw down a personal photography style, to me it would involve a few things that guide how I shoot:
Firstly being a colour pallet. Setting up a scene that uses a colour pallet to compliment the model, clothing and overall theme. I also predominantly shoot with 50mm and below which impacts my personal style for sure, with a wider lens I can get closer and experiment a lot with angles to my subject to showcase them in a more powerful and stronger light. Direction plays a big part in how I shoot too, making sure the subject feels natural and comfortable with their poses is always a big priority. If the subject is comfortable and natural when shooting I feel you can get the best shot out of them. Experimenting also plays another big part in my style, both in direction, posing, setting, lighting and colours I use while shooting. I think it's always important to challenge and push yourself when shooting, and to produce something different.
TNB: You’ve done work for an impressive list of big brands, the likes of Dickies, Poppy Lissiman and XLARGE OFFICIAL, can you tell us how this work came about?
P: In short, a lot of messaging and sending my portfolio around. At the beginning, it’s really a lot of reaching out to brands you want to work with and whose style you think aligns with yours and seeing if they are open to shooting. Thankfully, some got back and liked my work and from there the door was opened on some really special projects with some talented people and labels. When working with these brands it’s always exciting as I am also able to employ my own style and ideas strongly to produce a product the brands love and something I am able to grow on too.
How did you get involved with these brands and how does working with local brands differ to your work with some of the big names (if it differs at all)?
P: Luckily Perth is a close-knit community and I have been thankful to meet some people purely out of chance and being in the right place at the right time.
Working with brands in my own state is always a great opportunity, meeting with owners and hearing their visions and passion is always really motivating. Having people to collaborate on planning, and on shoots is always good as you’re able to bounce ideas off one another and push projects to their furthest points. Working alongside people has some good bonuses of creating a good friendship too.
The difference doesn't really rely on the size of the label it more depends on the label itself and how they want me to work. Some will give me the product and my own creative freedom and others will be there to bounce ideas off and work closely with. Both have really big ups, being able to produce something with sole creative freedom is always a lot of fun, as well as working closely with people as you are able to bounce ideas off one another to push the shoot and learn off one another too.
TNB: Fashion photography is not the only space you sit in. Can you tell us a little bit about your work outside of fashion? Do you see yourself working in all these areas into the future or being more concentrated in one area?
P: Fashion photography is a huge passion in my heart. But I also work in a lot of commercial spaces too. I work on Architectural photography of homes and new developments for Real-Estate and Design companies. I also work with marketing companies in Perth to accompany their campaigns for their clients, which can be from working with small businesses to produce a social media marketing campaign or big businesses with print and web campaigns.
Working in different spaces with photography has real benefits as I can learn a lot of different skill sets to push each area, and experiment with fashion shoots with techniques from media or print campaigns. Also from a technical point of view, it has helped me learn and grow my skill set further.
Moving into the future I want to continue work in different spaces. But, Fashion photography is something I can never not see myself pushing to pursue more off, if that took me to a point of working solely in that field it’s something I wouldn’t stop producing. I never want to stop shooting fashion photography.
TNB: Your work spans a wide range of mediums, from work in the field, studio work and some VHS video features. Is this breadth important to you, and do you feel you lean towards any mediums or style of work as a favourite?
P: I had to google breadth, that caught me off guard. Working with different mediums and in different locations I feel it’s important to continue to grow and experiment. Doing this I can bring different techniques and perspectives into each shoot or project. Experimenting for me is the best way to learn and push what I already know, it helps me work with new people and produce new projects I wouldn't have otherwise.
With the field and studio work they come hand in hand. If you’re shooting in the field and on location then what you learn can be transferred to the studio and you’ll find you are able to bring both skill sets together, either through adjusting lighting to changing direction for models.
I wouldn’t say I lean toward any of these or favourite one, I always try to balance each out and feel if I haven't done anything for a while that I need to come back to it and shoot with it more.
TNB: What piece of advice would you give to anyone (amateurs like us) trying to improve their photography? Is there any specific advice you think could help for brands working on their look books?
P: I think the best advice I ever received as a photographer is to keep shooting, learning, and experimenting. The more you shoot, the more you get to know your own style and begin to develop your strengths and overcome and practice your weaknesses too. I think if you’re just starting out and want to learn, film is always a good way to learn and take your time with a roll. If you only have a set amount you’re forced to set up each shot and to make sure your settings are right. I usually have a roll on the go just for this, and to practice techniques or set a task for each image.
For brands working on look books, I feel it's always good to convey what you stand for and what you want people to see you as. If you can narrow that down and show that in your photography or artwork then you’ll be able to grow something you believe in and remain constant with your brand and build something strong. People can’t go past something bold and confident.
TNB: Peter it’s been an absolute pleasure having a chat! We look forward to hopefully collaborating on some future projects together. This leads us to our last question - What does the second half of 2019 and beyond look like for you?
P: Thanks so much for having me, has been awesome to chat to you guys! Hopefully we can do something in the next half of 2019.
The main focus is to keep growing, shooting with the talented people I have met and have been lucky enough to work alongside, and push each other to grow, meet new people and labels and to grow myself and portfolio. Working with people around Australia including over East is another big focus and to follow that up with some more published print work too. I am really excited to push the rest of the year and see where it leads! Moving into beyond I am hoping fashion photography can lead me internationally and I can publish some projects dear to my heart in print or through a gallery. To stay happy and healthy is always a big one too. Thanks again TNB!
Check out some more of Peters work below and at: