Simon Deadman

Where are you from/based now?

Perth, Western Australia. I was born here and have spent most of my life here.

What is your background in Photography? What keeps you interested?

Since I was a kid I have always had a camera but mostly used it for snapshots of friends and photos of scenery while on holidays, that kind of thing. I bought a DSLR about 6-7 years ago and became pretty obsessed for a while but was pretty much oblivious to the photo art world and thought good photography was supposed to be vivid, saturated landscapes or stunning travel scenes so became bored of that after a while. I took some nice shots of friends and family but had not yet discovered something that would really drive me to push myself and keep making photos. Except for a few classes in high school I never formally studied photography but it has always been there on and off as a more than passing interest, just not one I always took as seriously as I do now.

What keeps me interested now was the realisation that you don't have to travel to exotic locations to take photos, they are right there under your nose every day or just a few hours down the road in a small country town. Some of my favourite photos recently were taken in a scrappy paddock just off the main road in an industrial area early in the morning while on the way to work. I love that I can find photos all over the place and for me that makes life richer and more interesting.

What equipment do you use?

A Mamiya 7 with the 80 mm lens and Kodak Portra. I have also been using a Rolleiflex quite a bit recently because I enjoy composing for the square frame and using the TLR with ground glass is just such a pleasurable experience. I also have a Canon 5D ii that I use more for occasional paid work like headshots and couples portraits etc.

I'm not a film purist although I do enjoy the process and the delayed gratification of having to wait to see the photos. Shooting 6x7 isn't exactly cheap so I feel like I slow down a bit and consider the possibilities more before pressing the shutter. Usually I wait a month or so and get a bunch of film developed at the same time so the delay helps with editing as I am not so attached to the moment in which I took the photo. It would be ideal to have a 6-12 month backlog before editing but I'm not sure I have the patience to wait that long.

For me nothing compares to the look of a nice medium format photo (except large format) and you can make beautiful large prints from them as well. That said, if there is ever an affordable digital camera that gives you equivalent image quality and dynamic range then I would be all over that.

What do you look for when you are out shooting? What draws you to a project?

This is pretty hard to put into words, if I could I might be a writer and not a photographer. I usually go out to a particular area with a rough idea of what I might be looking for but then find something completely different and better anyway. The best feeling is when I have been out driving or walking around for hours without taking a single photo and am tired and about to call it a day then turning down a street where everything just pops into place and forms a perfectly aligned scene - that makes it all worth it. What I look for are scenes that convey a certain feeling and sense of place.

Is there a particular photographer, site, set of images or a photo book that you keep coming back to for inspiration?

At the start of 2014 I had a bit of a moment of enlightenment when I ordered a copy of Stephen Shore's Uncommon Places on Amazon. I'm not actually sure why but must have seen it recommended somewhere. Over the next 6 months I bought quite a few photobooks and discovered people like William Eggleston, Robert Adams, Joel Sternfeld, Henry Wessel Jr. - the whole American colour and New Topographics thing. More recently I have been looking at a lot of work by Todd Hido, Jeff Wall and Richard Misrach.

In May 2014 we went to Europe for a month and visited so many art galleries and exhibitions. The one that stood out was the Robert Adams retrospective at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. At the time I had heard of him but wasn't overly familiar with his work and to be honest at first it was kind of disappointing. These black & white prints were really small, and some were just of seemingly random trees and houses, what the hell right? But there was obviously something there and that exhibition really stuck with me so he is one particular photographer I come back to all the time. He also has a rare talent for writing about photography.

There are so many great photographers posting work online on Tumblr and Flickr too, it's hard to name specific photographers whose work I follow because there are so many people sharing excellent photos. In particular I remember discovering a few people on flickr like Wouter Van de Voorde, Jamie Hladky and William James Broadhurst who all take these quite unique photos of Australian landscapes in a way that really resonated with me. It was so refreshing to discover photographers who were avoiding the obvious cliches but still managing to capture this distinct feeling of place here in Australia.

Are you working on a project at the moment?

Right now everything from the past year and half has been one big ongoing project based on the landscape around where I live in Western Australia. I have just been taking a lot of photos and pushing myself to edit more tightly and improve as a photographer. Out of that a few more focused project ideas have emerged so we will have to see where they take me.

Are you exhibiting at the moment? Do you have any plans to exhibit more in the near future.

I have been included in a few group exhibitions and sold a print in the last one so that was a bit of a boost to let me know I might be doing something right. Of course I would like to have a solo exhibition at some stage, it's still early days and maybe that is something that will come if my work is worthy of it and I keep working hard.

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