Ben’s photography journey
Interviewed by his Social Media Manager, Kate Courtney-O'Connor from Social Street Smart.
Behind the lens| Ben Williams lockdown story.
Ben let's start back to last year when Covid-19 first hit (March 2020) do you want to share a little bit about what that period was like for you on a professional level? It was such a strange time seeing the entire world close down. I was getting emails every day from my commercial clients saying 'sorry Ben but we're going to have to cancel this shoot' and I saw all my jobs disappear from my calendar and I went from a calendar packed full of shoots to a clear schedule. It was pretty disconcerting to see the future income gone from the pipeline and to top it off my wife was 8 months pregnant with our first baby.
After a few weeks I started to come to the acceptance that everyone was in the same boat and I was also lucky that because I do most of my shoots at the locations of each business I wasn't paying rent for a photo studio or a physical office space. I felt sorry for the businesses that did as it would have been devastating to have huge expenses when your income grinds to a halt.
Eventually I started to see the lockdown as a much needed break from work and I was very lucky to spend quality time with my wife and our newborn son. If it wasn't for the lockdown I might have felt like I didn't spend as much time as I should with our little man and it also gave me a chance to work on other parts of the businesses that I didn't have time to do before.
I'm also really fortunate that I'm able to work on my landscape gallery business because as it's such a strong passion of mine. I was able to put in more work into the business to continue to grow it which is something I don't always have enough time to do when it's busy with commercial photography. It was also nice that I was seeing an increase in sales as everyone was working from home and people were starting to realise they'd like some home improvements done in their house including sometimes a photo for their wall above their work desk.
Once the lockdown ended things got pretty crazy. Clients started booking in for their photo shoots and the calendar was packed with new shoots plus some of the photo shoots that were cancelled during the lockdown. Some days I was working over 13 hours a day trying to stay on top of everything while I was turning down jobs and passing on jobs to other photographers I know. The businesses that were booking me wanted to book in as much photography and video as they could in case another lockdown happened (which they were right about). It's a rollercoaster ride and with both the commercial photography and the landscape gallery businesses and it really feels like I have two full time jobs but I love them both and wouldn't change it.
So then when lockdown hit in July 2021 tell us about what unfolded for you in your Photography Businesses? What were some things you found difficult and what were some wins?
For me it was pretty much the same as it was during the previous lockdown. Companies had to cancel their photo shoots and I got back on the computer and got to work on the parts of the business that didn't require me to be onsite. I think it'll always be difficult when work goes from being super busy and stressful to having an empty schedule and worrying about how you're going to pay for the business expenses. In the end I think as long as I work hard and try to plan the best I can for the future then it'll all be ok.
One of the most positive things I've found is to work on creating new landscape photos as much as I possibly can. I start each day at 5am and check the clouds in the night sky. If it looks like it's going to be an overcast morning I'll sit at my desk and work on the laptop, if there's a clear sky, or even better if there are only a few clouds in the sky, I'll head out to a new location for sunrise so I can shoot in the golden, morning light. Out of all the days I'm out shooting there'll be some days I'll get a new photo that I'm proud of but always every day I'll be glad that I've started my day outdoors on a beautiful beach or in amazing bushland.
How has this lockdown changed your Landscape photography business and how you want to be seen as an artist?
One of the things that was an adjustment was moving to video calls. In August I was due to give a talk in person at the St George Leagues Club Photographic Society to speak about my landscape photography which was exciting. Because of the lockdown we moved to a Zoom call which was a new experience for me but it also had it's advantages that a couple of other photo clubs were able to join in and there were over 60 people watching. It was a fun experience meeting everyone virtually and I was able to talk photography to people who were interested, very different from the blank expression I get from friends and family when I talk at them about photography 😀.
Also I think the lockdown has given me time to really think about the direction that I want to go with my landscape gallery as well as my values in photography. My photos are of Sydney's coastline and primarily feature the waves, sand, rocks and bushland in the best light that I can find. Although a lot of my photos are often of specific local beaches I've found that it doesn't necessarily mean the buyers or collectors of the photos are from those specific beaches. Although some people want a photo of a certain beach because it's their favourite location, I've found that a lot of people choose a photo because they love nature, they appreciate owning a photo as a piece art and they enjoy the feeling of being in their own home that has a charming interior complimented by a beautiful piece of art on the wall that is aligned with their values.
The core values that I want to aim for with my photography is that I want people to feel amazing in their beautiful home with a photo on their wall that represents their appreciation for the outdoors and nature.
I've also been fascinated by the idea of scarcity in art. There are some things on earth that are limited in amount either naturally or manmade and because an unlimited amount can't be created it means that if people want to own the item(s) they are more special and have more value that if they were abundant. Some things that are limited in supply and are more special are famous paintings, gold and other precious metals, realestate and other treasured collectibles. Lately I've been trying to emphasise that every photo that is created is limited in amount to 20 editions and I've had a few people asking if the first edition is available of a photo which is so nice that they want to own edition 1 of 20.
What are some positive things that have come out of lockdown for you professionally?
Overall, the silver lining of the lockdowns is I've been able to work hard on what's important for the business including not only on getting out and creating the best photos I can but also working on the direction of the business while also meeting amazing people who appreciate the photos I take on the way.
What can we look forward to seeing from you photography wise?
I'll just be continuing to work hard, continuing to grow the business and getting out there to get try to get the best photos possible.
It's been really nice that people are responding well to my photos and I've been getting some awesome feedback which I'm very grateful for.