Gavin Jaymes is a commercial photographer, originally from Fife in Scotland but now has a studio and lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Despite Gavin’s incredibly hectic schedule we were delighted when he agreed to complete a feature photographer interview for Urbanity Chic. Read the full interview below to find out what Gavin most enjoys photographing, what makes Gavin considers makes himself unique as a photographer and what’s been the highlight of his career to date.
Q: How did you get into professional photography?
I actually studied photography, along with film, in Edinburgh about 15 years ago. Before I completed my studies an opportunity came my way to work as a videotape editor for a local TV station. I jumped at the chance and ended up on a career path in television. I don’t regret that at all as it’s given me some incredible experiences and some happy memories, but there was always a niggling frustration eating away at me.
As an editor you only have so much creative control, and it seemed the more I was climbing the ladder the more my creative input was becoming diluted. In fact I got so frustrated that I moved into an area of post production called online editing. That’s the part of the process that involves colour correcting and adding on-screen graphics amongst other things. Making this move meant that I had to learn a lot more about colour, and it also meant I had to improve my Photoshop skills.
At around this time I also moved from the UK to Wellington, New Zealand. When I arrived they were just finishing the Lord of the Rings trilogy and there was an amazing creative buzz in the air. When I got my permanent residency in New Zealand I started my own post production facility and got the chance to work with some outstanding filmmakers. After a while though the frustration returned. Particularly around the colour grading process. I feel that process can be very creative but time after time I was finding my clients to be very conservative.
In the end I turned to photography, really just as a way of having my own images to colour process. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I had stumbled on the creative process I had been looking for through all these years of frustration. That was about 4 years ago and I really haven’t looked back!
Q: What do you enjoy most photographing?
People. They fascinate and annoy me in equal proportions! I’ve never been much of a social butterfly, but I do love to people watch. Something I inherited from my mother. She loves to try and work people out and in no time at all will have a life story for them. That’s what I love to do with photographs, my own and other people’s. That’s the real magic of the still photograph, the mystery.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
It was a big year for me. In August I finally removed any doubt in my mind about what I wanted to do with my life. In the space of three weeks I directed a short film that I had written, and worked on a fashion shoot for a local designer. Both were completed in one day. Both had a crew of about ten people and both were very hard work. I remember lying in bed after finishing the fashion shoot and just not being able to get to sleep. I felt so energised. It had been an awesome day and I was genuinely gutted that it was over. It was work, and yet I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve, giddy with excitement!
Q: Who inspires you?
I guess I draw inspiration from many places. Yes, some famous photographers and artists inspire me. Lots of not-so-famous people too who I might come across just browsing the internet. Really, I don’t think I can be creative unless my mind is in the right place. So for that reason I would have to say the person who has inspired me the most is my friend Jason. I’ve never met anyone quite like him. He just oozes positive thinking and whenever I’m in a rut he manages to get me out of it.
Q: Which modern day fashion designers or fashion icons do you look up to?
That’s a really tricky question for me. I don’t consider myself a fashion expert in the slightest so I guess I would have to say that I don’t have a favourite designer. I think that can be a good thing though. I see this a lot in the music industry. People get so involved and caught up in it that they lose their objectivity. I think a lot of the great artists probably weren’t great art collectors. I like to be able to look at something fresh and form my own opinion without feeling peer pressure in any way.
Q: What makes a good photographer in your opinion?
I don’t think there is a formula as such but I do think photography is about three things. Creative and technical ability along with good social skills. I certainly think you should be well versed in the technical aspects of what you want to achieve. That way when you’re being creative the technical stuff is fairly automatic and doesn’t require much conscious thought. People say that you have to have a good ‘eye’, and I think that’s true to an extent, but I think it’s more important to be socially productive when shooting people. It’s hard to get a good photograph if the person in it isn’t relaxed and fully embracing the experience.
Q: Do you prefer using film cameras or digital?
Definitely digital. I’m all for the digital revolution, probably because of the route that led me to photography. I still would say I know more about Photoshop than I do about cameras. Having said that I am so keen to experiment with film, especially medium format.
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in the studio?
I like both. Location is much more stressful, but more rewarding I think. I’m a bit of a control freak so the studio suits me for being able to set up my lights the way I like and also to have the full range of equipment on hand at any given moment. I’m also a fan of using plain studio backdrops. It’s harder for models as the focus is completely on them and they quite often have nothing to sit on or even lean against, but I think you can get some really striking images out of it.
Q: Do you have an interesting stories about a particular photo shoot you’d like to share?
At the start of this year I spontaneously organised a shoot with two of my favourite models, Lisa and Athena. I hadn’t done much location work for a while so I hired a car, we packed it up and set off on a road trip. We ended up in a place called Te Horo. It’s a west facing beach on the lower North Island in New Zealand. It was such a fun shoot, everything came together perfectly and we got some awesome shots. I remember on the drive home thinking just how much I love doing this.
Q: Do you have a specific style of photography that makes you unique?
I think my style of photography and post-processing is constantly evolving, so I don’t think there’s any particular style element that defines me. And I like it that way for now. If there was one stylistic thing I would say that it’s down to how I dress female models. If left to me a shoot will probably involve the model not wearing too much but having at least one thing from the man’s wardrobe. It could be belt and braces, or a hat, or boots. It’s nothing new but I love it!
Q: Do you have a favourite photograph?
I’m quite fond of the latest set I did. I went out to a place called Makara, famously where Peter Jackson filmed some of his early work. The Model was Lisa Morrison, who is a good friend, and she’d been requesting this shoot for a while. She styled herself and makeup was provided by another good friend, Athena Passione. Lisa just said she wanted the shots to be ‘Epic’. Well, it was certainly stormy enough to provide high winds and crashing waves, so I think we got what we went for.
Q: Who is your favourite photographer?
Really hard question! For fashion I like Mario Testino. I like Corrine Day for beautiful studio work. For great celebrity portraits I like Jeff Lipsky. I learned a lot from Zack Arias, a music photographer, his work is pretty cool.
Q: Is there anybody you would like to work with (either behind or in front of the camera)?
In terms of subjects, I want to work with more bands and celebrities. The good thing about being in New Zealand is that it’s fairly easy to get access to some big New Zealand names. The bad thing about being in New Zealand is that no one else in the world will have a clue who they are!
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
Art. When I think of fashion I think of runway, rather than HIgh Street. Many years ago I used to scoff at the ridiculousness of it but now I have to say that I get it. It’s art, pure and simple, and combined with creative photography it can be awe-inspiring.
Q: How would you define your personal style?
Relaxed. When it comes to shooting I’m very instinctive. I like to have all the elements in place before a shoot but I try not to plan anything too precisely. I always know when an idea is good and I just go with it. I think some of the least successful shoots I’ve done have been the ones that were planned too heavily. For me a shoot is an organic process with so many elements that can change as you go. I think it’s good to have a loose goal in mind but the more you let the process unfold naturally the better the end result.
Q: Where are you based?
I have a studio in Wellington, New Zealand.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
I’m from Fife in Scotland. I have to say I’m glad not be there anymore. I have nothing against it but I always knew I wanted to get out and experience life in different places. I now live in Wellington, New Zealand. As I talk to you I’m looking out over the harbour and it’s just beautiful. I recently became a New Zealand citizen and that just cemented what I was already feeling, that this is my home.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Being paid appropriately for a job? Does that count? I’m joking of course, but modeling and photography are notoriously hard professions to make money in so I guess having my talents appreciated and rewarded does mean a lot when it happens. As far as creative highlights, I’d have to say the shoot I did last August for a local designer. It involved a lot of chalk dust and a stunning model. The very last shot of the shoot was her clapping her hands together filled with chalk dust. It was a one shot deal and we nailed it!
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
I feel I’m on the right path creatively, so I just want to continue shooting and developing my style. I do want to increase my online presence. I’m fairly late coming to Facebook, having only joined in December. It’s been a revelation, and has inspired me to pursue as much online marketing as possible.
Q: What do you do to relax?
I like a drink and a good movie.
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
I’ve been addicted to the Silversun Pickups for quite some time.
Q: Do you have interesting hobbies?
I don’t really have the time. My interest in photographing bands comes from my love of playing music. Over the years I have had spells playing guitar, bass, drums and saxophone. These days I have a couple of guitars lying around so if I do get the time and feel motivated I’ll pick them up, tune them, and then probably put them right back down again if I’m honest!
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for aspiring photographers what would it be?
Trust your instincts. Seek approval from yourself not others. Learn the technical stuff, and just keep shooting. Don’t let a bad shoot put you off. I’ve had so many bad shoots and I’ve come to realise that I’ve learned more from those shoots than I have the good ones!
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
I find the creative experience intensely gratifying. If I feel I have gone after an idea and nailed it then I am genuinely ecstatic!
Editor’s Note: Gavin Jaymes’ portfolio of work clearly proves that with the right skills, depth and dynamism can be created using digital media. We’re sure we’ll be seeing much more of Gavin’s work both in advertisements and editorials in the near future.
If you’d like to see more work or contact Gavin Jaymes just follow the links below:
twitter link: http://twitter.com/#!/gavinjaymes
facebook link: www.facebook.com/gavinjaymes
web page link: www.gavinjaymes.com
Any other links: blog.gavinjaymes.com