JRP: Alex Pott is a talented photographer from the “Land Down Under” who is graciously willing to share some of his perspectives on professional photography. Thank you Alex for sharing time with the readers of JRP Blog.
Alex Pott: Hey, thank you and I’m flattered by the opportunity.
JRP: Where do you call home Alex?
Alex Pott: I live in Melbourne, Australia which is our second biggest city. There are roughly 4 million people here and contrary to popular belief, not a single Kangaroo on our streets. Well, not in the city anyway.
JRP: How did you get your start in photography? Is there any formal training in your background?
Alex Pott: My Dad was into photography and I have always had a real passion for visual creativity. I started with a basic 35mm film camera and really enjoyed landscape photography early on. There was no real formal training but hours of experimenting and reading up on the techniques and inspirations of the masters.
JRP: How do you generally define the style of your work and how much of it is dictated by your environment (Australia)?
Alex Pott: I really like the sharp, slightly extreme styles of European fashion photography. Images created through collaboration with talented hair and make-up artists, stylists and models really drive my own inspiration and direction. Add to this great locations and I find that amazing things can be created. Strong images and really unique clothes are probably what really get me going.
JRP: How big is your support staff and what areas do they handle?
Alex Pott: I surround myself with people by whom I’m humbled daily. I owe a lot of the quality of my work to them. Make-up and hair have been driven by the incredible Bernice Mansfield (www.bernicemakeupartist.com) who had the ability to transform the everyday to something amazing and push concepts that little bit further. Adobe could shut-down Photoshop production if there were more Make-up Artist of her caliber.
Then we have stylists who are such incredibly complex creatures that seem to find magical ways of combining clothes with accessories to bring out a story that many people would never see looking at a rack of garments. Production and retouching I do myself and I have a small group of assistants who I can rely on being able to almost read my mind. Really, I’m just the guy who shrink-wraps all these talented people’s creativity.
JRP: What equipment would I find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot? What lighting equipment do you favour and why?
Alex Pott: I shoot with D3x at the moment and quite enjoy where Nikon is at. Lenses range from 24mm to 200mm and I use primes where possible but really just employ what compliments the concept. I’m not crazy-loyal to any brand. I find myself often looking at the competition to see what’s going on and if I feel anything could improve on my end product.
From a lighting perspective I use Elinchrom and Profoto, both brands I enjoy working with due to their reliability. I adapt my kit to the client and their needs which means I have been known to shoot natural or even with speedlights if the brief calls for it. I try to fit the equipment to the shoot rather than force the shoot into a pre-defined equipment list. Whatever I choose, it needs to be reliable and give me the confidence to create what is in my client’s mind. That is my number one priority for choosing what comes with me.
JRP: Could you please describe your digital work-flow and the software you use?
Alex Pott: I shoot to card if it’s a free-flowing fashion shoot. I prefer this to allow me to move and interact with the model. I hate standing still. Occasionally I’ll shoot tethered for more controlled scenarios but I feel a little constricted with this method. After that, everything is shuffled through Lightroom for selections and basic adjustments just to show the client. Once finals are marked, I take the original RAWs into Photoshop and start on creating finals.
JRP: Do you print your images?
Alex Pott: I do for some clients and obviously for myself through a professional print house. Inks and printers scare me! The majority of times images get delivered digitally to the client who may have their layout guys add copy or prepare for final print.
JRP: Given today’s economy please share with us how you keep a productive and creative edge.
Alex Pott: This is a difficult question to answer as it’s definitely a challenge that doesn’t have one single answer. I’ve had to step outside of my specialization and take on more jobs which aren’t specifically “fashion”. I’ve shot bare-bones CEO portraits, many product shots for simple catalogs and even dabbled in events photography. I think it’s important to keep working, even if it doesn’t always fit in your dream scenario. You still gain the experience of client interaction and the exposure to other fields of photography.
Additionally, I’m passionate about shooting submission work that is non-client based away from commercial restrictions allowing my team and I just to really have fun. These shoots are self-funded, but I love them the most. They are my fuel to get me through the tough days, tough clients and the occasional dull brief.
JRP: Give us a breakdown of how you handled the capture of a memorable image?
Alex Pott: Wow, now if only I knew the answer to that I would never do anything else! I have been on shoots which felt like they had more planning than the Olympics and the shots were all “OK”. Then I’ve had ones where we thought it would just be a quiet little fun shoot and suddenly your jaw drops at an image you didn’t really anticipate. I try to always get as much reference material as possible before a shoot to align myself with the rest of the crew, make sure we’re all roughly on the same page. There is a definite quality I strive for and I like to think I push the team into the right direction to obtain that quality. However, at the end of the day you have a certain amount of “controllable chaos”. This is the magic stuff where the model might just pull an amazing pose that make the clothes look insane. Make-up will suddenly transform a model in a way we had not anticipated and we are all left in awe. Then either the environment or a certain angle will dish up a shot that just identifies itself as ‘the’ hero shot. I love those moments. I love that they still surprise me and I don’t think I would ever want to get totally to a point where it’s 100% predictable. I think it would kill the passion of the hunt for me.
JRP: Would you share with us some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Alex Pott: This wasn’t a photographer but someone equally as inspiring and in the industry. She said when she worked she was in her “happy place”. To her it was a place where she could get lost, let everything just flow and let her soul guide her creativity. I really try to always take this on-board which ties back to what I said above. Leave a certain amount of “suspense” in the mix so you can let the passion and subconscious create something a little surprising. Plan too much, and you can plan the life out of art.
JRP: What special advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Alex Pott: Never let numbers, equipment or non-ideal circumstances interfere with what can be possible. History holds some intense images that highlight very little can end up being everything.
JRP: Thank you Alex for taking the time to share your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure.
Alex Pott: No worries at all!
JRP: To view more of Alex Pott’s photography please follow this link: