Your personal projects can lead to bigger opportunities. We talk to photographer Scott McAulay on how personal projects have impacted his own photographic practice. You’ll learn about: his early struggles getting his photography business started; building a business using relationship building; the importance of mentors and community; the importance of personal projects; planning and executing personal projects; working during COVID lockdowns; looking after your mental health during downturn; gear and lighting choices and much more.
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About Scott (from Scott’s website):
Though Scott has built a career photographing the famous, he’s just as interested in capturing the lives of ordinary human beings.
“I love working with everyday people in their own environments,” he says.
McAulay’s skill in creating compelling portraits is evident in both his commercial and personal work. He’s shot the stars of television shows such as Shortland Street, The Block, The Bachelor, Filthy Rich, and Step Dave, as well as top news and entertainment talent. He spent two months on location in Nicaragua shooting Survivor, and while there, began his project In My Ute, documenting the hitchhikers he picked up each day. Photographs of his young son Oscar have also sent his work in a new direction.
“I’ve photographed a broad spectrum of people, and tend to get on well with everyone,” he says.
McAulay was raised in Birkenhead, Auckland, where his father owned a pharmacy for more than 45 years. It was here that he discovered his interests in photography and people.
“My dad had a great rapport with his customers, and I pretty much grew up in that pharmacy, spending a lot of my afternoons helping out.”
McAulay has indulged his childhood in some of his personal projects, including In My Neighbourhood, Market People and some current projects in the works; portraits of local business owners.
“Dad used to drop me at school – his shop was a 10min walk away – and I remember holding his hand and looking up at him as we walked,” he says. “With these projects, I’m looking up to everyday business owners who are working hard to make a living.”
It’s pretty tough, he says, having a shop and doing it all yourself – and this sense of equality and empathy is exactly what makes his images stand out.
“My work is about making everyday people look strong and a little heroic in whatever they do.”
Exhibitions: These Days – Works in Isolation (Opens 29 October 2020