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Tony Potts Email:

CCP asks Tony Potts the deep questions about his craft.

1.What gets you out of bed every day?

First and foremost the sun.

2. Who is the photographer that has inspired you the most?

Helmut Newton.

3. What current camera are you shooting with?

Canon 5D.

4. When you are on a shoot do you play music? What other essential items do you have with you for a successful session?

In the studio I like to have music to set a comfortable vibe.

Outside Im moving around too much. I like to minimise my crew to essential people to make for easier location changes and the ability to adapt to spontaneous ideas that always happen to me when I’m shooting. I also like to minimise equipment for the same reason. Every photographer should be able to get the job done with a standard lens and a portrait lens unless he/she is doing something that needs a specific piece of equipment.

5. In the digital world how important is the print?

In my opinion a photograph does not exist till it is printed.

6. B/W - Colour - Analogue - Digital.

Put these words in your order of preference and tell us why.

Here is my order of preference

1. B&W (film or dig) because it gets straight to the point of the photograph..…what its trying to say. Colour has a tendency to distract the eye, and is often the only reason for taking the photograph.

2. Digital photography allows for infinite manipulation in post production and for infinite shots and previews. It delays the decision of B&W vs colour if necessary. Of course its better to answer that question beforehand but thats another discussion.

3. Analogue. I love film but I place analogue under digital for the reasons already stated however the fact that I had all my training and a good part of my editorial career on film allows me to say that it provided me with the best understanding of light and how to use it and come to a decision regarding exposure with just a light meter. There is something quite special about an image shot on film just like its special to listen to an LP!

7. Have you exhibited your work, and other than the print, how important was the framing process to you?

I have been in many group exhibitions over the years but being largely an editorial fashion photographer and commercial film director, I haven’t had the desire till now to exhibit my work through a gallery. I do have a solo exhibition hanging now at The Lyons gallery in Darlinghurst till the 18th April at which time it will travel on to Melbourne.

The framing process is thrilling. I liken it to getting dressed for something really important and wanting to look my best. Its as important as the work in many ways because I need my work to be presented in the best possible light.

8. What defines a great image?

Firstly I think a great image is one that gives you, the viewer great pleasure for any reason. I think that goes for any piece of art. I hate wanky, over intellectualising of pieces of art. If you love it then its great!

Then, I would say there are some iconic images taken by world recognised iconic photographers like Ansell Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson or Helmut Newton amongst many others that I studied that set an intellectual benchmark because of their subject matter and the way it was visualised. Bottom line is that the truely great images simply stand out from the rest.

9. What is your favourite photo that you have taken? Why?

Probably “Dale Diving”

There was an element of luck.

It was difficult to achieve.

I was standing waist high in the surf at Bondi cradling a Pentax 6X7 camera, and protecting it from the crashing waves that hit me a sec or so after hitting Dale.

The resulting picture was one that could not be reproduced even if I had to.

But Ive been shooting for 40 years so its hard to single out a single image. I would say however that in my 40 years of professional photography that there are about a dozen or so of which I am proud.

10. What is the best photography advice you have been given? Tell us by who if you can or want to?

Two pieces of advice were without doubt the most useful, confronting and a little distressing at the same time.

My uncle was a very well known, highly regarded photographer who’s images are held in permanent collections at all the major galleries in Australia (David Potts). One day soon after I started taking semi professional photographs I went to “show off” to him the equipment that I had. Without going into detail here, he basically said Tony, when you know what you’re doing with a standard 50mm lens we will talk about why you don’t need all that bullshit!

Second piece of advice was that of a senior art director at Italian Vogue in Milan after looking through my portfolio. He said to me that he thought my portfolio looked good and the images were reminiscent of Hans Feurer. I was very chuffed at this initial moment as Id spent a few years trying to shoot like Hans Feurer!!!!!! His next sentence was the clincher. He said……And when we need something like this we get Hans Feurer. He then handed back my portfolio.

These two things happened in a relatively short time frame.

I sold all of my equipment and with the proceeds I bought a Leica M6 and a 50mm Noctilux lens and “found myself” and soon made it into Vogue with my own style.

Lesson learned!!

11. When you are not taking photos, what are you doing?

Prior to Covid I travelled a lot for work. These days……Walking, swimming, cooking, Bondi Beach and dreaming about love.

Tony Potts - May 2022

Tony's Gallery

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