by Kristle Jones
Elliott Erwitt once said, “Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
Australian native, Thom Kerr, known for artfully conveying the bright, bold saturated-with-color world around him through his photography, spoke with me about his passion for photography and how it felt to shoot powerhouse like Tyra Banks, in our candid interview.
In speaking with this jack-of-all-trades, Kerr shared the delicate balance that is his busy schedule. “I was the Australian editor of Black Magazine for the last five years, which was an incredible experience and a wonderful introduction to independent publishing.” Kerr stated.
“The editors of Black inspire me with their authenticity and strength of character. However, I recently stepped down to embark upon a new journey creative directing a beauty publication called Laud. (www.laudmagazine.com.au) Laud’s point of difference is that it captures beauty focused editorial from a high fashion perspective.” he went on to say.
So a new beginning?
In many ways, it feels like starting over again but this time building a publication where I have more artistic license with the content. It has been quite the challenge but we have had amazing agencies and brands come on board after one issue! So building the magazine over the last few months has meant that I have passed on many jobs so that I could focus on making sure the magazine was high quality. At times, my personal life can be non-existent when it is busy, but on the other side, I have extraordinary experiences that move me deeply and keep me in a state of gratitude.
And what does a typical day look like for a working photographer/editor such as yourself?
I would say there are two types of typical days. Non-shoot days consist of waking up around 7am, usually checking my email on my phone from bed. I eventually arise out of bed, jump in the shower and walk to my local coffee shop and get my iced latte. Then once I’m home with my coffee and breakfast snack, I launch into emails, phone calls, preproduction and retouching all day with breaks for lunch and dinner. I have only just started injecting long hour walks late at night before I go to bed where I will walk a few miles to help shake off the energy of the day. I will usually crash around midnight.
On shoot days, I will be up early, straight into the shower, then checking all of my gear before I leave my apartment. I will usually save my morning coffee until just before I arrive on studio or set. I will start playing music loudly and feel myself act out characters and turn into a weirdo on set. After the shoot – once everything is packed up I will head home, usually dump gear and go treat myself to an amazing dinner. If I am really pumped about the shoot, I may look at the raw files before I go to dinner – but I try to give myself a bit of space so I can look at them with fresh eyes the following morning.
How has your style evolved over the years?
I think for me it has always been a constant tap dance between what is expected of me commercially and what I want to explore artistically. I’m somebody who definitely came from the art world and stepped into the commercial fashion and celebrity side of photography. For a long time it was hard finding a balance between those worlds, often leaving me to feel quite conflicted. I think looking back now though, I learned a great amount of discipline from collaborating with brands, artists and other creatives. I saw the world through their eyes and through understanding what their purpose or aim was, my perspective was liberated then expanded. In a way, it felt like developing a new skill set of solving problems and ticking boxes but delivering pictures in the most creative way possible. Being more technically proficient and goal orientated has meant that I can return to the eccentric part of myself with a newfound discipline.
What was it like to work with the incredible powerhouse model Tyra Banks?
I found her to be very warm and a pleasure to work with. She was wonderful to everyone on set and was invested in making sure I was happy with the pictures. On an interesting side note, the year I had taken up photography I had decided to convince my friend to enter Australia’s Next Top Model. I remember waiting with her in line in the shopping center with at least 100 other girls. Subsequently she got on the show and was runner up for the season. At the time, we were just kids from Brisbane (Australia), so being on reality TV seemed like the biggest thing that was possible. So if I could tell a younger version of myself, that in a number of years I would be photographing the woman who created the whole series it would seem so completely impossible. It was quite a moment to look through your lens and see Tyra “smizing” back at you. And for the record, her energy was fantastic as a model. FIERCE.
And lastly, just for fun, whom do you look to for inspiration on Instagram?
I try not to fall into the bad habit of gazing at people with beautiful bodies for too long! I am quite vain with my Instagram and usually check in to see how my own activity is performing as I use it as a vehicle to promote my work as opposed to my personal life. When I am surfing pictures, I love looking at other artists outside of photography to get inspiration. They remind me to be authentic and adventurous with the pictures I take.
For more on the talented and charismatic Kerr, follow him on Instagram, @ThomKerr.
GET THE PRINT ISSUE With Kerr’s Interview HERE