One on One with Ted's Masters - Jason Lau
Hi Jason, please introduce yourself
Beginning my creative life as a painter, my move to photography was a means to engage the world in a more direct way. I’ve been involved in the photographic world for over 15 years, worked as a photography teacher for 7 years, and I am now working full time as a photographer. Based in Melbourne, my work now moves between fashion, portraiture and weddings.
What defines your photography style?
My use of lighting is often what most people notice. Light is very much a distinct character for me, wherever it comes from and it can be used to express so many ideas.
How did you become interested in photography?
My strongest memory of falling in love with photography was after doing a Film Noir assignment in University. I looked down at my black and white contact sheet and it was like viewing still frames from a movie I created. It was a powerful realisation that these images would not have existed if I had not taken them. Now they did, and it was a good thing.
Do you have any formal training?
I studied Fine Art with a major in Photography, mostly working with film and printing in the dark room.
What inspires you?
My influences are broad, from my studies of Fine Art to cinema and the mundane wonders of everyday.
What type of lighting do you use most within your photography?
In the studio, I love using my beauty dish. It’s such a versatile light that can be used in such dramatic ways.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently trying to develop some personal projects. I like the idea of sustaining an idea over many images. It will be interesting to see how it evolves. Dreaming this way keeps me balanced while I’m shooting more commercial work.
Who are your favourite photographers and/or artists as of right now?
One of my favourite photographers is Paolo Roversi. He has been in the fashion industry so long but his work does not seem swayed by trends, rather his own unique vision. I also love following the work of Australian photographer Tim Richardson who currently works in New York. His work is so powerful and I’m always amazed at how he pulls his futurist visions together.
What is your proudest moment as a photographer?
Probably the proudest thing that has occurred recently is building my own photography studio with my business partner. I love having my own big studio.
How has social media helped with the success of your photography?
There is always a love / hate relationship with social media for me but it has put me in touch with a lot of great people without needing to advertise. It’s important though to no let your need to be popular to shape the kind of work you do. Sometimes great ideas start out poorly, but it shouldn’t mean you don’t try it.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken?
One of the photos I have hanging on my wall was taken of a scene in a tiny town in Tasmania of two identical abandoned buildings. I shot it on my Diana plastic film camera. It has an otherworldly look that only this kind of camera can create.
What is something you wish you were better at?
I wish I was better at the business side of my work. Many artists often suffer this. They get too caught up with creating images or dreaming of new ideas that the practical things fall aside. That’s why I make friends with business savvy people!
How important is post-processing to your works?
Post-processing is creating what the mind’s eye sees. It is crucial as all images require some form of interpretation. The camera is just an arbitrary tool and it is up to the photographer to adjust the colours, tones and textures to give the image meaning and emphasis.
What’s on your gear list?
Once you have your few good lenses and a reliable body, there’s not much else you would need. I’ve collected quite a bit of gear in my years of photography and most of the time I’m thinking about how much gear I can leave behind. Sometimes having a simple set up can help you focus better on the image you can create.
What type of photography do you enjoy the most? Creating your own personal work or client shoots?
I like creating my own work to the level that my clients start asking me for it.
Funniest photography memory
Doing a fashion shoot in a small kickboxing gym with a model and having about a dozen guys training extra loud around us to get the model’s attention.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
To keep asking yourself about your work, “Is it good?”
What awards have you won?
Weird thing is I’ve won more painting awards than I have photography awards! Having great clients hiring me is like winning an award though.
What tips would you give a photographer on best way to get your work published/ or/ to get noticed?
Work on being a great photographer first. I’ve met a lot of photographers who spend more time on their logo designs than their photographic skills. Keep shooting until you understand what your own work is about and what sets it apart from others. Then other people will start sharing your work online.
Any big plans for the future?
Maybe work towards an art exhibition one day.
Any advice for the novice photographer?
Learn to take criticisms rather than seek adoration. Better yet, seek out people who can offer you valuable critiques of your work. When it is offered, don’t make excuses, don’t defend. Instead, ask questions and just absorb; think about how you can do things differently next time.
One on One with Ted's Masters - Tim Coulson
3 Myths about Photographing in Antarctica