INTERVIEW – Justin Besser, Australian Photographer
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, this young photographer has already travelled the world in search of inspiration and a scene to capture. Working on productions and at concerts, Justin has been in the industry for six years, and has recently travelled to London to work as a specialist camera operator in the 2012 Olympics. However, it’s not just about the technical aspects of his career that he loves most, it’s the lifestyle and rewarding experiences that he has gained, and will gain in the future. Justin also has created some videos over his years of working with photography, including time lapses of the East Australian Coast and much more! We sit down with Justin for a Q&A about his experiences overseas and what photography means to him.
Name: Justin Besser Photographically born: About 6 Years ago, I found the spark in photography as art. Current Location: Sydney, Australia (although go through moments of nomadic existence)
Hi there Justin how are you?
Feeling energised today, a run of incredible weather can brighten anyone up.
How did you first come across photography?
My interest in cameras started quite early, at first I had more of an interest in the gear. I loved them for their mechanics more so than creating photos with them. I was one of ‘those’ kids who got cameras and any other electronic pieces I could find around the place and took them apart to see how they worked, the putting back together wasn’t that successful (laughs), but I really enjoyed looking at the insides of these “black boxes”. I was really technically minded (and still am), understanding the process and the tool is important to me, it’s only recently where because I feel I understand the process the creativity seems to flow a bit more. I enrolled in the photography class in Year 11 high school, again with the interest in the equipment rather than the art, but I think my lack in interest in school as a whole meant I didn’t really embrace it too much. Although having said that, it did give me the basic photographic knowledge under my belt. Somehow over the years gone by, I found I always had a camera with me and I became the photographer of my group of friends at the time. It was more happy snapping away to capture those moments out with friends.
After school, cameras became part of my job as I started working in film & television and started to use photography as a means to develop my skills. I became obsessed with light and found myself shooting most days, and when I purchased a digital SLR it seem to really accelerate. I was no longer limited by the expenses of film so I really allowed myself to experiment. On one side I love the moving picture for its ability to convey a story, on the other side, still photography really gives me the opportunity to find that unique moment.
Did anyone inspire you to pursue photography?
I didn’t really come from a creative family but my parents were very much supportive of my interests. My older brother had all the photo and video kits from having a love of photography too, he had seen how stoked I was when I came to playing and talking about cameras. He lent me his video camera often so I could go and shoot my friends surfing, skating and running a muck. I loved shooting so much, creating little videos for friends and family to watch, I’d spend all my time filming everything and editing. It all really started with motion pictures for me, the real love for photography developed later. Once photography and video exploded on the net, all the inspiration in the world was at my fingertips.
As the world is seen differently for everyone, what do you look for when you look through a lens?
I feel I approach what I see through my lens in a very technical manner – light, colour and composition are key – but also waiting for the right moment where each of those aspects comes together. My favourite time to shoot is dawn, and it’s a matter of being in the location to capture the beautiful colours, the shadows, silhouettes and the way people are feeling and interacting with the sunrise.
What is one of your favourite photographs you have taken?
It’s very hard to pick just one, I tend to find a new favourite everyday depending on my mood. So I’d ask myself, “What is my favourite and why?” Today I am really enjoying:
It’s one of those times where the emotion of the photo tends to be more powerful than it just being a pretty picture. These guys were just having such an incredible time playing in the surf, and for a grey miserable day, it was lovely to see people so ‘stoked’ on life. It made me extremely happy.
What camera do you use?
Canon 7D, Canon G1X, GoPro, iPhone
You have also travelled overseas to Europe recently to work in the camera team at the London Olympics, what was that experience like?
I went over to the London Olympics to work with a camera team setting up all the speciality cameras (cranes, rail-cams, hotheads, etc) around London. I had a camera with me all the time and from the places I got to go and I found moments and views that not many people had the opportunity to experience. For that opportunity I felt extremely fortunate. The experience overall was getting to be part of an amazing team who produced the biggest event in the world, it was an unbeatable feeling!
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/57196534 w=500&h=400]
Have you had any training in photography?
Apart from a year of high school photography, no formal training in photography. I currently work in film & television as a cameraman and have worked alongside a whole host of amazing cinematographers, so my training and understanding of light has been by watching my peers and getting out there and experimenting.
Do you think that the experience of travelling and seeing different things has changed the way you see the world through a lens?
Travel is one of life’s great privileges, from a personal point of view travel has been a catalyst to my greatest personal growth. The world is such a beautiful place, and where you tend to get a bit narrow minded at home, being away lets you strip back and start to experience, appreciate and enjoy things which you take for granted in your own environment.
Through a lens it’s all amazing. For example I found myself photographing manhole covers in the street everywhere I went because they were so ornate and beautiful. I think people thought I was a bit weird taking shots of the floor, but that’s the case photographing whilst away, the things that other people just glance over, you can look at with a sense of awe.
You also like to include quotes from famous writers, scientists and other persons of interest below your photos that you publish, do you think that helps with your inspiration?
At first I was actually scared of writing my own words, I used quotes because I felt that the pictures needed words to compliment them and help to invoke an emotional response. Over the last few months I’ve written most of the words myself. I was told by someone start writing from my heart, I like to try to give a bit of a positive message for anyone who wants to read.
Photographing at the beach can be a bit tricky because of the weather/wind and other environmental factors, but what do you find is the most rewarding thing about photographing landscapes and sunrises/sunsets?
The most rewarding thing is actually being there, its such a beautiful experience to watch the greatest force of the universe occur, having the tools to take that experience, package it up and put it out there for people to have is a bonus.
I get up most mornings and it has become a bit of a ritual. I love watching how others experience that time in the day too. Sometimes I walk away with nothing except for experience, but every day is beautiful in its own right.
What do you hope to do with photography in the future?
Photography will be a lifelong learning experience. I am confident photography will continue to be a part of my life and look forward to different opportunities that comes with it.
Lastly, if you could sum up your entire collection of work in under a sentence, what would it be?
Finding the beautiful moments in life to inspire a positive heart.
You can find the rest of Justin’s photos on his social media sites, which are listed below: