We recently caught up with photographer Gavin Thomas about his work. With a large roster of celebrities that he’s worked with, Gavin has a vibrant and uniquely stylised portfolio. Gavin took a break to answer a few questions for us.
Hit the jump to check out our interview with Gavin and a selection of his work.
How would you describe your work?
I would describe my work as a mixture of being "a fly on the wall" and "in your face". I might also describe it as symmetrical or gridded. I like having balance and structure in a lot of my personal work.
You look like you're always busy, what are you working on at the moment?
I am staying busy, i'm working on a magazine I started myself a few years back called VNDL (Vandal) as well as shooting for lots of different clients. Everything from BTS, street style, weddings, and portrait type work.
You work with a lot of celebrities, is this how you originally envisaged your photographic career?
I never really thought I would be an actual shooter on my own. I thought I would be working more of either an assistant or retoucher. It wasn’t until after school when I first moved to NYC that I thought I could be an actual photographer on my own. I was assisting a headshot photographer in Chelsea and she was really great at motivating me to shoot constantly. Within a year, I had an entirely new portfolio of portrait work in which I was proud to show off to photo editors and potential clients.
and who were you most excited to shoot?
I probably was most excited to shoot 50 Cent who was actually the very first celebrity I shot on my own for a publication. From there on, its kinda like, "oh cool you're 'so and so'" but I'm more excited if they are nice people or not.
When you start a new photo shoot, what is it that runs through your mind?
It's lots of “are the batteries charged” “do I have my memory cards” “oh it would be fun to shoot with this camera” “how much is all this going to weigh?” It's basically a lot of getting prepared and making sure things are working so that nothing goes wrong.
How has your work changed from when you first started to shoot?
I try to keep things pretty simple these days in terms of gear. Instead of bringing 10 cameras, I rotate it a bit and only bring 3-4. I'm shooting a lot more natural light, as well. The first year shooting, I think I used a ring light on about 95% of my shoots.
You have a mixture of Film and Digital in your portfolio, would you say you have a preference?
I like shooting with both for a few different reasons. One: having digital, you know you got the shot since you can see it right away. On the other hand, shooting with film keeps it fresh and fun because you have to wait to see the results. It always makes for good conversation with my subjects and I tend to just feel more comfortable shooting with a camera that doesn’t have an LCD screen to make sure settings are here or there.
How do you balance your commercial work with personal work?
Trying new things helps from letting it get stale. If I’m shooting a ton of portraits one week, I might go out and shoot landscapes or try to do some weird still life at home. I'm also pretty busy chasing after my one-year-old son. He’s getting big so quickly!
What kind of photographic work inspires you?
I'm always drawn to good portraiture work. I love seeing new work from photographers of all abilities.
Instagram is great to check it out because you can basically search for anything with a hashtag and it's right there in front of you in two seconds. I also like looking at older photo books at either the library or a book store and just browse. I think it's important to also know a little bit about the history of the medium. When shooting with film, it forces you to understand exposure and how important that is. I think having all these smart phones with cameras and super duper digital cameras with “P” mode makes anyone think he or she can be a photographer. While that's great and all, I think its important to know the roots!
What advice would you give someone starting out in photography?
The best advice I could give would be to make as many friends as you can with people who are also photographers and just talk “photography” or shoot together and meet others who are interested in similar things and really just embrace that the other person is not competition but they are help. I can’t tell you how many times I refer work to my photo friends and how many times it has now come back to me.
If you want to find more of Gavin Thomas' work, you can find it here on his website