We caught up with cool af Australian photographer Jo Duck to chat getting into the industry, creative inspo and current Instagram stalking…
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m an Australian photographer with a funny name who get’s inspiration from cinematography, storytelling and human nature.
How would you describe the style of your work?
Polished with raw edges.
How did you first get into photography?
My dad was into photography when I was a kid, once I got to high school I started playing around with his camera. One of my besties was a few years ahead of me in school and he showed me some work he’d printed in the dark room and it was love.
What does a typical day look like?
Every day is different.
If I’m shooting, I like to get to the studio early and set up while listening to Elvis.
Whether I’m shooting a fashion editorial or working on something for a commercial client, the soundtrack is key!
There’s a lot of problem solving to be done through the day and it’s important to be working with a team of people you trust and believe in. I like to surround myself with positive people who are all focusing in on their area (styling, hair, make up, set design etc) and collaborating to create the best result possible.
When I’m not shooting I’m often at the computer editing or researching. I often listen to podcasts or have the X Files on in the background keeping me company.
If work isn’t busy I’ve finally realised it’s important not to just sit at the computer going around in circles. Instead I try to see exhibitions, go for long walks, go to the cinema in the middle of the day (ultimate luxury) or meet with friends in and out of the industry.
Talk us through your creative process- how do you go from an idea to the final product?
When working editorial fashion, I love conceptualising the idea. Sometimes magazines will give me some parameters to work within. Sometimes they’ll let me pitch a concept.
I get most of my ideas from films, exhibitions, books, podcasts, music, odd things that happen everyday or weird facts about space. I once saw an installation of a UFO in the middle of a public space in Melbourne, then saw a bus load of monks get off said bus and get their photo taken under the UFO. Then they re-loaded onto the bus and drove away. That was the beginning of an idea for a fashion story for me.
I’ll have an initial idea, put together a moodboard of references which could incorporate film stills, iconic characters/people from history and also fashion editorial images so I can accurately brief a team.
It’s important to find a stylist and model who fit the brief and can take the concept to a new height. The stylist will create another moodboard to encompass their reaction to the original brief and start sourcing. I also storyboard what I’m after for the shoot – including what kinds of crops, lighting and movement I want to achieve.
I love collaborating with people and I’m lucky to work with some truly talented stylists, hair and make up artists, models, set designers and assistants who all put their own spin on the initial concept to take the shoot to the next level. An editorial shoot can be pretty loose. It’s good to allow people to collaborate and experiment to make the pictures the best they can be. We storyboard the shoot as we go so we can see how it is coming together, then afterwards (inc. post shoot drinks), I do basic editing on the images and BAM they’re good to go to the magazine.
Who/or what inspires you most?
Films, phenomenal colour combinations, music, podcasts, people’s stories and cults.
How did you start out your career?
I studied in Melbourne at Photography Studies College straight out of high school. Once I finished the course, I started shooting with some local magazines and small clients and over time gained representation and bigger clients. It’s taken a while but I wouldn’t have wanted to rush into it too quickly.
What advice do you have for photographers trying to break into the industry?
Just start shooting. If you’re curious about the technical side, read up and get nerdy with it. Read your camera manual and do tests. Watch Youtube videos if that’s your thing. If you’re more intuitive and don’t care about the technicalities just yet, keep on shooting, but maybe write down a few notes to yourself about what you’ve done – so you can come back and emulate some genius mistake you made before! Also maybe wait a while before starting your website and promoting yourself really heavily. Just so you can get that style solidified before pitching yourself to clients and getting a name for yourself. Unfortunately the internet never forgets.
Describe yourself in 3 words…
Constantly thirsty weirdo.
Who are you currently stalking on Instagram?
I’m not much of a stalker, but I’m often checking in on talented friends.
@marawa always has colourful and divine posts
@eirianchapman + @kellythompsoncreative both have beautiful illustration work and often show their work in progress
I also like checking in with @whatfranwore which is a collection of images of Fran Drescher from the nanny in the best outfits from the series.
Which emoji best describes you?
Upside down smiley face for sure.
Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever done a shoot?
I just got back from LA where I shot in Palm Springs and in beautiful mid century modern homes. I also shot at The Madonna Inn which is fantastically over the top and gaudy. Absolutely love it there.
I really love old theatres too and have been lucky enough to shoot in quite a few in New York, Sydney + Melbourne.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
What’s on the agenda for 2017?
Lots of super top secret plans I’m afraid! I can tell you I’m thrilled to be collaborating with some genius’ in Amsterdam, I’m working on an exhibition and will be trying to perfect my backbend.
Wanna know more? Follow Jo on Insta @jo_duck
…and check out more of her photography on her website joduck.com