Robert Coppa is a professional photographer and filmmaker from Canberra, Australia. After checking out Robert’s creative portfolio of fashion and editorial shots we were really keen to invite him to complete an interview for Urbanity Chic so that we could share everything with you. Read the full interview below to find out about, amongst other things, how Robert got into professional photography, who he would like to work with if the opportunity arose and what advice he would give to young or up and coming photographers.
Q: Who are you called?
My name is Robert Coppa from Robert Coppa Photography. I opted for a self-named business as I feel has a more personal touch. Clients know your name right up front; that helps to make a more personal and open connection. It also serves to publicize the company as well as the photographer at the same time.
Q: How did you get into professional photography?
I have always had a keen interest in the arts, drawing and creative design from an early age. This coupled with my fascination for computers and digital arts led me to start dabbling in photomanipulations and photoretouching. In 1999 a job opportunity presented itself and I moved to the United States where I resided for 8 years. It was while there that I began taking a strong interest in photography. I took several classes and workshops and was lucky to assist and learn under two very well respected photographers.
Q: What do you enjoy most photographing?
People, without a doubt! I have tried landscapes and still life and although I have managed to get some great images it doesn’t excite or inspire me anywhere near as much as when doing something quirky and creative with people. I love the interaction with people, not only with the models but also the makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe designers etc. The buzz generated is always invigorating and feeds back into the creative process.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 was a good year for me. It allowed me to consolidate and think about where I wanted my photography to go. When I returned from the US to Australia in 2007, I found it hard to acclimatize to the way of thinking of the local fashion/editorial photography scene. So much so that I changed lanes and became involved in production stills photography on film sets and filmmaking. 2010 marked my return to fashion/editorial and portraiture, although I still spend plenty of time on filmsets both as a photographer and filmmaker.
Q: Who inspires you?
Inspiration is a funny thing for me, it comes from many people and many things, and often suddenly. I am mostly inspired by friends and colleagues in the industry. My family inspires me (drives me crazy sometimes too – but craziness in itself can be inspiring, don’t you think?) I am also inspired by designers, creators and inventors in all fields of endeavors. By writers that can paint as delicate a picture as any photographers and by visionary filmmakers, like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
Q: What makes a good photographer in your opinion?
For me, what makes a good photographer can be distilled into 3 main ingredients. Light, shadow and framing. Lighting is paramount in photography; obviously without it we would have nothing. Likewise, are the shadows we create by modifying and positioning the lights and lastly is framing. The ability to frame a photograph is so important to effectively convey the sense of space and mood.
Q: Do you prefer using film cameras or digital?
Definitely digital. I want immediate feedback, it gives me the ability to adjust many parameters quickly and it allows me to give my client feedback on the spot. It’s a great visual aide to explain to the model subtle changes in his/her posing and/or look.
Having said all that, there is nothing like the feel and look of film. Knowing that you only have a certain number of exposures in your roll to shoot can make you slow down and think about the shot. And, sometimes that is a good thing.
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in the studio?
It really depends on the concept I am trying to shoot. Sometimes a white cyc wall is exactly what is required to depict the main subject, and yet other times a complex on-location set is necessary to convey the sense of richness and detail. I do a lot of studio work, but given the chance and access to exotic locations I would definitely prefer it (now if only I had access to the big thermostat and wind machine in the sky )
Q: Do you have an interesting stories about a particular photo shoot you’d like to share?
We had arranged to shoot on-location at a train museum with a Donna, a talented Australian model. Because we working in the proximity to newly restored and some still under restoration carriages, we had to have an escort with us at all times. We covered the brief of the shoot pretty quickly and ahead of schedule. The model asked to have some spontaneous nudes done by some very old and rusted carriages. Donna was a fiery red head and she looked gorgeous in that particular setting. Our escort and elderly gentleman that had been content to just drag along besides us suddenly became very attentive. The look on his surprised face when came around the carriage and found her nude was – well priceless :o)
Q: Do you have a specific style of photography that makes you unique?
Interesting question, I am a strong believer in being versatile and being able to adapt. As such I try hard to mix it up and try different things. But if I had to sum it up I guess it would be simple to moderate non-flat lighting with effective framing and composition.
Q: Do you have a favourite photograph?
If I were pushed to the wall and made to choose I would have to choose The Decadence photos.
Q: Is there anybody you would like to work with (either behind or in front of the camera)?
There certainly is, I would love the opportunity to shoot alongside visionary Australian Peter Coulson. Amazing UK based Rankin and US based Alex Saveliev August Bradley, to name a few. Of course I would love to meet and work with the magician Joe McNally! On a movie set, I’d love to work Jasin Boland. He has photographed the Matrix trilogy, the Bourne series just to name a few. He has been a great motivator to me.
In front of the camera and especially for narrative photography, I would love to shoot Clint Eastwood – what a wonderfully lined face. For fashion and editorial with a quirky style Ms Dita Von Tesse.
Q: Who is your favourite photographer?
Not one but many. I draw inspiration from all of the photographers mentioned above!
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion gives me the opportunity to produce creative, stylized and evocative images. It allows me to explore ways to advance my photography and it’s a vehicle for connecting and making friends with some absolutely amazing and creative people.
Q: How would you define your personal style?
Oh boy … that can vary so much. I don’t know if I have one specific style. I like classic, dreamy, sensual, strong, angular and soft. I love both modern and vintage Victorian style.
Q: Where are you based?
I am currently living in Canberra, Australia. Not many people know that Canberra is the capital of Australia.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Canberra is a small city in contrast to some of places I have lived in, but I like that. It’s a garden city and has lots of open spaces, parks and fresh clean air. It is also well space between the bigger metropolitan cities or Sydney and Melbourne.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Being published in various editorial magazines, been part on a big budget film production crew and having worked with some amazing talented people from all over the world.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
Bigger, better, quirkier shoots with creative, hardworking and like minded people. Get more images published in notable magazines, get my current short film “Finding Eric” selected in a few international film festivals (maybe even win one) and if I am lucky and can manage to squeeze it into 2011, visit NYC and hob-nob with some of the amazing photographers there.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Gym, Walk, Movies, internet surfing.
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Nonstop trance mix, Enigma, various artists’ current hits, the occasional audio book that I listen to when I am walking.
Q: Do you have interesting hobbies?
Ummm don’t know if I really have any hobbies, I spend far too much time in front of the computer. Maybe part of 2011 aspirations is to get out more :o)
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for aspiring photographers what would it be?
Photograph what you love, then it’s not a chore. Experiment, try many genres and don’t settle for less than what you know you can be!
Oh one more thing, it’s not about the tools, or the megapixel, or the f1.2 aperture. It’s about you use the tools and the value add you bring to the process.
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
That beach house in the Bahamas?
Seriously though, I love photography and I love interacting with people. The ability to create using those two medium is what gets me juiced.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
I like Tim Tams ( Wikipedia defines Tim Tams as : chocolate biscuits made by Arnott’s Biscuits, Australia. A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. ) ‘nuff said !
Models: Jordan, Iulia, Charlotte, Felissa, Effie, Vanessa, Michelle, Emma, Cailin, Olga, Ingrid, Liam, Pep ,
Rachelle, Daniella, Katie, Lauren, Keira, Izzy, Natasha, Lila, Saira, Simone, Jane & Deirdre.
Mua/Stylists: Viktoria Novak, Dave Reid, Rebecca Sainbury, Kylie Bersenic, Karen Mathias, Jolina O’Hair,
Priya Chandra, Tristen Cassar, Jessica Byrnes, Lila Marvel & Leslie Henshaw
Editor’s Note: Robert Coppa’s love of the creative sides of photography, personality and appreciation of the important technical aspects are apparent in every shot. Definitely one of Urbanity Chic’s ones to watch!
You can stay in touch with Robert’s new work by following or becoming friends on Facebook/Twitter/Google+ accounts, links below:
twitter link: www.twitter.com/robertxc
facebook link: www.facebook.com/robert.coppa
web page link: www.robertcoppa.com