The following text is an extract from the recent PHOTOBOX interview when I was their featured photographer ...
Damian Gillie specialises in architectural and industrial photography. He enthusiastically says, ‘What I really like about being a photographer is the mask it lets me wear and the ticket to places it gives me access to.’
‘A photographer stands apart in a crowd, part invisible, part feared, part respected, part disregarded, but always central to what’s happening around them. I love to be in this situation, observing and being given the freedom to be different.’
Without photography he claims, ‘I would never have been to Oman, been on an oil rig, had tea with the Archbishop of Canterbury, gone down the deepest mine in Africa, up an electricity pylon, flown first-class, watched close-up brain surgery, flown along the trans-Alaskan pipeline, spent 3 days in a Whisky distillery, or swum with turtles in Barbados.’ He even met his wife through photography, so really feels it has formed and informed his whole life.
His advice for someone starting up is to be positive, to be yourself, and be seen by as many people as possible. ‘With digital there is the perception of a level playing field where anyone can take a picture and the technology can cure all if things aren’t up to scratch. So it’s easy to underestimate the skills required. A good commercial photographer should always be able to put his or her client in a good light, put the subject in a good light, work fast and efficiently, and come away with the right product.’ He firmly believes that if you have the ability, character and perseverance you will succeed.
The final paragraph I have included not to do me out of work but as an interesting aside as to how the industry has changed so dramatically over recent years. There is work to be had out there; I am nurturing local clients nowadays in a way I never considered so important before. But I am continuing on my personal work with a new flourish; working slower and even occasionally using film! When I completed my MA at the Royal College of Art some 20 years ago I was primarily known as a 'black and white' photographer and I went on to exhibit widely in Europe and America. I hope that my new projects will be seen to have that same freshness and optimism that my early work was known for, and that the level playing field will become more of an interesting landscape!