Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to chat with photographer David Hamilton to find out more about his life behind the lens, the diverse subjects he shoots and keeping pace with changing technology.
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How did you get started in the photographic industry?
I was a hair designer who was taking average photographs and decided to take a year off from my business and go and study at Wellington Polytech. I was very lucky I was going out with a young woman who taught me how to print B/W prints and helped me prepare a portfolio which got me accepted. Afterwards I ended up working as an assistant on a fashion shoot doing the hair and assisting, which was my first break into photography.
Is photography your full-time gig and what does a typical workday look like for you?
Yes, I have been a full-time photographer for over 30 years. I now run a hire studio and equipment business along with working as a photographer. My typical day is very varied, normally starts at 7.30 where I organise any rentals, I may also set up lighting for stills or video shoots for other images makers. I also shoot a range of corporate portraits, Annual report work, Architecture and drone photography as well as small video shoots in the studio and on location.
What are some of the best bits, and also some of the challenges about what you do?
The best bit are getting to go to amazing locations meeting passionate people and learning new things.
How would you describe your work?
Eclectic, I have at some stage in my career photographed most things, Presidents, Prime-ministers, famous people, new technology, editorial, fashion, products, architecture, film stills, food, documentary, landscape, nudes, and sports.
You have a diverse portfolio with macro product shots, portraits, narrative editorial, architecture and landscapes. Do you have a favourite subject to shoot?
At the time I loved all of it, they each require different disciplines, while all require the ability to understand how light falls to give the best results. Sports helps your reactive skills, still life your composition, portraiture your ability to communicate etc.
With technology developing so fast how do you keep your skills up-to-date?
I started with film, used medium format, 4 x 5″ and 8 x 10” cameras mainly shooting transparency film. I used to have a $2000 per month film and processing bill and had invested in cameras that I thought would last me all of my career. Then came digital and I am now on my 5th digital camera and finally a mirrorless camera that can produce images that were on par with medium format film.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I am really proud of series of images I shot for Wellington tourism, all printed in black and white, a campaign I shot in India for hand made silk quilts, The images I sourced and shot for the NZ pavilion in Shanghai at the last World Expo and my personal serries of diptych portraits called Inner and Outer.
What are you working on right now?
I have 90% finished a project on classic scooters and a small personal video.
What is your favourite subject to photograph?
People and landscape separate and together. everybody is the same but yet we are all so different
How (if at all) does New Zealand identity inform your work?
Being born in this amazing country of astonishing beauty but so far from the centres of art and culture, meant that I was always wanting to produce work that was on par with the best of what inspired me. I have had the opportunity to work with some truly creative people in this country and I not sure I would have had the same experiences if I had been born in USA or Europe and the number 8 wire thing, working out how to do it yourself because you couldn’t afford to buy some piece of equipment or it wasn’t available to rent.
Do you have any insider tips for budding photographers out there?
Yes several photographers said always carry a camera, that’s easy nowadays as we all have a phone and set yourself assignments and complete them. If you do what you are passionate about the rest will follow. Share your knowledge because we will all keep growing.
How can people stay in touch and follow your work?