Meet our Friends… Fraser Chatham

3 years ago by

Design Assembly has become the home of New Zealand visual design –providing a collaborative digital and physical platform for kiwi visual designers to learn, keep up-to-date and be inspired. We couldn’t do that without the support of our Friends. This series profiles some of the studios and individuals who have shown their love and support for DA. In this feature, we talk to Fraser Chatham who shot the fun imagery our latest DA friends campaign.

We last caught up in 2017… What have you been up to since then?

I now have an agent/producer who I work with closely on all commissioned projects, Loupe. As my work has grown quite significantly since 2017 this had been great to take me to the next level. My work has also progressed more into motion, I’d say my practice is now a 50/50 split between video and photography.

We love the recent campaign you photographed for DA what (if any) were the challenges in shooting this series?

To be honest, it went very smoothly, the style and lighting set up was a way I work quite regularly. So it was more a case of getting in there and making sure we nailed the brief.

What else are you working on right now?
I’ve recently finished a big project with Smeg appliances, a range of TV commercials and above the line stills. I also recently worked with the team at McCarthy for the Christchurch Arts Festival stills, that was a highlight for the year so far.

Do you have a favourite shoot? If so what makes it special?

The Bombay Sapphire project ‘stir creativity’ we worked on last year is up there. I co-art directed, directed motion and shot stills. It was so fun to work with the agency and client to really push their vision across the two mediums and link them together. The style ended up being used across stills, video and in the insulation of the event to make a very cohesive final piece. It’s rare to have my vision used in so many outputs which made it special.

Your still life photography is super bold and fun! How do you translate the scene into your vision for the final shot and how much is done in set up vs post-production?

It really depends on the project, if it’s personal I’ll style and art direct it myself. If I’m working with an agency or client we’ll bring in a stylist to make to process run smoother.

Usually, I’ll think of an idea, stew over it in my head until I feel it’s resolved, sometimes this is days sometimes it’s months. I’ll then storyboard the project in a series of digital drawings. If the project requires other people ( stylist, props made/ sourced, lighting crew, etc). I’ll meet with them and describe the vision, then we will work together to produce the final piece.

Recently I think my overall practice has moved slightly away from a lot of post production. My goal is always to get the most done in camera as possible, it always seems to work out more successful.


You have described your work as being driven by colour and materiality… do you have a favourite colour or material to work with?

Hmmm not really. It’s more what I’ve been inspired by in my practice. I’m really inspired by artists like Richard Serra and Anish Kapoor who will work with a selected material and push it as far as possible.

What is your favourite subject to photograph?

I really like working with people who have a solid conceptual grounding in the work they want to produce. Because I studied conceptual art, when there’s smithing in a brief that goes beyond just what it looks like, I find it exciting.

Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
My work has always been more inspired by sculpture and painting than photography. But Irving Pennn is one photographer who has always inspired me. The way his style carries across both commissioned and personal projects, his mastery of light and how his work stands the test of time so eloquently.

Photography techniques and equipment change quickly, what do you do to always keep your skills up-to-date or to advance your skills as a photographer?

I just shoot a lot. My view is that photography equipment changes but good technique stays the same. The fundamentals haven’t really changed, at the end of that day, you have a camera and some lights.


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