INTERVIEW WITH STUDENT PHOTO COMP WINNER | GEORGIA MINNIE
I remember seeing Georgia’s winning photo a few hours after it was submitted and thinking how cool the perspective was. Since then I have checked out a heap more of her work and have the say – its incredible. Looking forward to seeing more of what Georgia can produce once she is all finished up with her studies! Some seriously great advice in this interview. Thanks so much for taking the time Georgia!
Where do you call home?
Currently living in Perth but was born and raised in Margaret River and will always call it home.
Whose work do you admire the most currently?
Seb Zanella (editor of desillusion magazine), hands down my favourite at the moment. Also a big fan of Juha Tolonen, Trent Parke and Harry Mark.
It actually comes from a speech that has some amazing quotes within it but its an excerpt from JFK’s speech detailing plans for the first Apollo mission to the moon:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard … Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.” Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.”
Damn that’s a tough question! I adore Into The Wild and Sherpa… and the entire Fast and Furious series haha.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your own time?
I’ve been surfing shortboards since I was about 8 years old and surf coaching for the past 6 odd years but have been getting more and more in to log-riding in the last 5 years; definitely one of my favourite things to do when I have time away from work and uni.
What’s a book that you would recommend?
Tim Winton’s Breath would have to be one of them, also Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, both of them are genius.
If I’m doing well with money a Mojito doesn’t go astray… the rest of the time an Export always hits the spot.
Georgia’s Winning Image
Tell us all a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up, why photography, and who/what have been your biggest influences?
I grew up in Margaret River WA. My family runs an Outdoor Ed company down there that I now also work for, so we spent a lot of time climbing and caving and surfing etc. growing up. My Uncle and Aunty also started the surf school up in Yallingup so have always had a really heavy surfing influence in the family. This has definitely helped a lot the more I’ve been getting into surf photography over the past few years.
Why photography is a really tough one. Mum and Dad got me a muck around underwater camera when I was quite young and that was defintely the starting point for my obsession with photos.
I studied it in High School and took a few years off before going back to study it at Uni and am now doing an Honours thesis in Photography which is pushing me harder than anything to do with photograhy in the past.
I think I am so engulfed in photography because I think that one of the most fascinating things about capturing life through the camera lens, is the fact that you can’t actually ‘capture’ life at all – the idea that you can never wholly encompass a person, a moment, a place or an event or idea I think is what keeps driving photographers to continue to take photographs. You are capturing your own view of your subject matter, which will then be interpreted differently by another person who views it, which will then go on to inform different ideas and ways of thinking for somebody else. The fact that we have the freedom and the ability to keep exploring the world in innumerable ways is what is so exciting for me and the fact that we will continue to produce new and interesting works and ways of seeing that have never been put forth before definitely drives me to keep pushing my own photographic practice.
There are so so many influences I could bang on about but when I boil it down I think definitely growing up where I did gave me a massive appreciation for the natural world and for things that are raw and uncontrollable, especially to do with the ocean. I have my family and so many friends who drive me to keep pushing with my own photos, but a huge influence for me has been my current Honours supervisor Toni Wilkinson whose work I admire and who has turned my photos back around to me more times than I can remember and said there is more I can do with the photos and to go and shoot more, shoot better. This has been amazing in refining my art practice and helping me to start to think more about why I take photos, what I want them to look like and what I want them to do to the viewer.
What is something that you feel has held you back in the past?
Money has definitely been a big one in terms of wanting to shoot in a certain way but not having the right lens or flash or my Adobe Creative Cloud hasn’t been paid for etc., that’s always a killer.
But I also think that not being able to back myself has been huge in terms of putting my work out there and thinking that it’s not good enough – comparing my work to other people in my field and talking myself down has been a bad habit that I’m learning to get rid of but it takes some time for sure.
I’m pretty terrible at using Instagram and marketing myself in that way on social media and that is definitely something that has held me back in terms of exposure and job opportunities – I’m trying to get much better at because I want it to be an accurate reflection of my photography and I haven’t quite nailed that aspect of things yet!
How has your vision changed from when you started photography to now?
I think my vision has changed significantly from when I started photography to now and continues to change every other day, but I’m so stoked that it does or else my work would expire very quickly.
I definitely had quite an idealised vision of the photography industry when I was younger and a part of that still exists, but a huge chunk of reality has dropped in since I’ve studied photography and been shooting and exhibiting in more professional realms. Reality about the cost of keeping your equipment up to date and functioning properly, as well as printing, framing, installing and exhibiting is huge.
But my overall vision and reasons for shooting I think have remained pretty steady and I definitely think they’ll carry me for a long time.
Talk about your creative process?
My creative process is in a bit of free fall this year because Photography Honours is so heavy on the research side of things, but in general my process is split depending if I’m doing stuff for uni or for myself – uni is definitely research first, build a visual diary of similar artists and shots and then I generally freestyle the shooting side of things (with a research-based direction) and see what happens from there, then always gotta write about the shots at length which can be tedious. For my own personal images I generally just get out and shoot whatever/wherever I am and I’m always stoked to see some stuff I like coming from the shots I didn’t plan or expect to take. Stopping trying to think of the finished product first has helped my process a lot and taken a lot of pressure off me when I shoot.
I’m generally just keen to shoot where no one else is shooting – as soon as I see another camera pop up I’m fucken outta there.
It’s hard to not care what people think of you and your work at times- Was there ever a time where this affected you or the way you capture images?
Very true aha. Ummm…yeah for sure! I think there’s often a little devil in the back of my head that spins a wheel of doubt by pre-empting what other people might think of what I’m shooting, but I’m getting better at muting him out. The only times I can really single out is when I’ve been exhibiting as a finalist in competition formats and when they announce the winner I always look at their shot and compare it to mine and think “maybe I should do more shots like them” … but to be honest I’m generally not a huge fan of the shots that win anyway haha – it’s been amazing to see what work is out there actually winning these awards etc. but I’m not going to change my shooting style and content to please a judge, I just have to keep shooting and pushing my own style harder.
What’s the one thing you look for in every photograph you take?
Ahh I honestly think that I look for something that doesn’t necessarily make sense at first glance, something that makes you think and might make you look at something in a completely different light, something that makes you go ‘whoah’ or ‘what the fuck is that’. I’ve been reading a lot of theory pieces on out of focus photography and that’s been really interesting in developing my photos and what they look like.
What drives you to do what you do? Do you have an goals or things you would like to achieve with your photography?
Yeah for sure! I mean I’m so passionate about getting my work out in the world and getting people’s feedback and reactions to my photos is incredible and keeps driving me to shoot and refine and shoot and refine. At the moment my goal is just to finish my Honours year without having a complete melt and hopefully get some great results at the end of it all. After that though it’s very up in the air… I want to keep exhibiting and would love to start getting photos in some publications and articles, that would be rad… at the moment I’m definitely just feeling things out and seeing where this year will take me.
Tell me about the best piece of advice you have ever received? Are there anything thing that you wished you had known earlier?
This is a hard one to pin down because I receive amazing advice everyday from the people closest to me and learn so much from their life experiences … but I keep coming back to some advice that I got when I was in America about 5 years ago on a mountaineering expedition – we’d just come out of a 2-day blizzard at the tail-end of a 4 month expedition and I was just feeling fucking exhausted! One of my expedition leaders said to me that a person’s tolerance for adversity determines how much they can achieve and what they can survive through … and this still comes back to me all the time and I apply it to so many things that happen in life, especially in the realm of photography that I’m living in now. It’s so rapid-paced and consistently changing and evolving; it is such an adverse industry to work in and you need to be able to grit your teeth and hack it if you want to achieve anything within it for sure.
How do you relate to the fear of failure? Has there been a time in your life where it has affected you?
The fear of failure hasn’t played as much on my mind as fearing not putting myself out there and grabbing all the opportunities that are presented to me all the time – things like photo comps (such as this one), job opportunities through friends, talks and workshops with other professionals – these are consistently available and all it takes is to enter or to rock up to an event and you’re already putting yourself in important situations that can definitely further your creative future. It’s when I don’t take hold of these opportunities that affects me and I tend to get hung up on missed opportunities however, there’s no point to keep dwelling on missing them, it’s just been pushing me to keep going after these things and forcing myself to put my hat in the ring and see what happens.
What have been some of the struggles (work wise/head-space wise) you have had in the past and how did you go about dealing with them?
I think that self-motivation at times when inspiration isn’t flowing and exposure of my work is low has definitely been a struggle of mine in the past and continues to come up from time to time; it can be a really average head-space to find yourself in and can definitely make you question a thousand times over why you do what you do and what will ever come out of it.
But what’s helped me massively to move past these thoughts is to remind myself to just ride the headspace out and go and do something else for a little while, go and surf or climb or do anything that doesn’t involve a laptop or a camera – it can be really frustrating to keep bashing away at your work when you’re not feeling it and you never end up producing something you’re overly satisfied with – taking breaks works!
At your lowest point what picked you up to keep going?
I think that this year of studying Honours has created a bit of a low point in terms of uncertainty about the direction(s) that I want to take within the photography industry after this year is done.
But the things that have picked me up and kept me going have 100% stemmed from stopping letting thoughts about the future and jobs in photography take over everything that’s going on for me at that time and bringing myself back to why I take photos in the first place – instead of thinking about the shots I wanna take and how I want them to look and where I want to see them displayed and making myself stressed over these thoughts, getting out and shooting always cures the low points no matter what. Getting in the water with the housing is therapeutic in itself, and the shots that you get from it can always be an added bonus.
Stripping your thoughts back from what you can’t control to what you can control has been the biggest help for me, grabbing my camera and just shooting whatever I feel like that day helps to push past those thoughts so well.
What is some advice you would give photographers or creatives who might be a few steps behind you or just starting out today?
Commit. Commit hard haha, there is no other way to do it because nothing gets handed to you on a silver platter in the photography industry. That sounds super brutal aha, but hard work definitely gets noticed and your work can only keep improving the more you push it and push yourself, it’s kinda the only way to get noticed in such a competitive industry.
I would say find your nichè, or atleast a style and some things that you like to shoot and that makes you feel like you’re putting something new out in to the world, and stick with developing that style as much as you can because you never know what kinda work you might end up producing if you stick with it.
I definitely still listen to so many photographers and creatives whose work I admire and take in their tips and tricks because it can be super helpful – that’s definitely another thing I’d highly recommend!
Who would be your dream client / athlete / person to photograph?
Aha this is a hard one!! I’ve always wanted to shoot stuff for Monster Children mag … shooting Alex Knost for a surfing editorial or the Chilli Peppers for a music ed… that’d be the dream.
Thanks for taking the time Georgia!
Links to some of Georgia’s work: