Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to chat with still life/studio photographer Fraser Chatham to find out more about his work and his passions.
This article is proudly brought to you by mychillybin.
Hi Fraser, can you tell our readers a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I’m a still life/ studio photographer. I grew up in Whangamata in the Coromandel and now live and work in Auckland.
How would you describe your work?
I think my work is driven by colour, materiality and pushing myself technically. I’m not really interested in creating work with a narrative. I guess, stylistically, my work is clean and graphic.
How did you first get started in the industry?
I was first introduced to the industry through the Kingsize scholarship program. I had been studying previously but didn’t really have any idea how to become a working photographer.
After the scholarship I got a part time job working evenings and weekends, and slowly started moving my way up at the studio. I eventually started working full time in the equipment department, and that set me up with connections and equipment knowledge to start working as a freelance photographer.
Whereabouts are you based?
What are some of the best bits, and also some of the challenges about what you do?
The satisfaction to be able to do what I love everyday is great. I couldn’t see myself doing any other job, to be honest.
The main challenge is probably the isolation of being a one person team. It can get pretty lonely shooting by yourself and working from home a lot, but you just have to take it for what it is!
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
My favourite work is probably the “Sphere” series that was exhibited in a solo show earlier this year. The series was an experiment in creating the colour spectrum through light. Each work’s colour was produced with a combination of coloured ‘gels’. The common use for gels is to manipulate the colour output of an artificial light to reflect the colour and light balance of an environment, measured in ‘degrees kelvin’. Creating these works in a controlled studio environment allowed a range of precise colour and exposure combinations to emphasise control of the colour spectrum.
Your images show a strong sense of identity. Do you have any insider tips for budding photographers out there?
Don’t be anxious to start at the bottom. Sometimes the best way to get your foot in the door is doing really lame work and working your way up. Working as a photography assistant or at a studio/ rental house sets you up well to start as a photographer. Mainly to have some idea of how a large scale shoot runs, how to work lighting/ camera equipment, on set etiquette, etc.
Once you make the transition to shooting, I think working on regular personal work and pushing it out as much as possible, contacting everyone you can think of to show your book to, and developing a style that is cohesive throughout your portfolio of work that you want to shoot.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
My inspiration seems to come in waves. I wish I could pin it down where it came from? Minimalist sculpture and painting have a big influence on my work. I’m interested in the enfaces they’ll put on the materiality of a piece. I feel this is often overlooked in photography. I also get inspired about the contemporary still life coming out of the UK and Europe. There’s some young photographers making amazing work over there.
What’s next for you in 2017/18? What do you have lined up?
I’m really pushing the motion side of my practice now, and would love to start working on more video projects. I’m also keen to get my own space to start a studio, and start slowly investing in lighting equipment.