While Tim Levy has an incredibly diverse portfolio, landscape has always been central to his photography career.
From Australian bushfires to the neon jungle of Las Vegas he captures environments in flux, with the human presence always haunting the perimeters of the frame – often in humorous ways.
In this special Spotlight, Tim Levy will take you step-by-step in how he connects with a landscape and creates an often human-less narrative in just one frame. Tim will provide technical specifics, creative insights and how being editor of Capture Magazine has expanded his career.
Book now via the link below to join us online at 12:30pm AEST on Wednesday, 17 May.
Tim describes his photographic pursuits as branching across “music, events, portrait, film stills BTS, exhibitions, theatre, sport, travel, street, landscape, product, commercial, architectural, equipment reviews, teacher, studio, location, documentary, wedding, printing and cinematography”. While others find their niche in photography and stick to it for the rest of their life, Tim’s passion for photography manifests in his exploration and celebration of everything a camera can do. From weddings and corporate events to handball tournaments, to the back streets of Las Vegas – Tim uses his camera to produce shining snapshots of life, whatever that might look like.
I caught up with Tim, to find our more about his practice and his ever expanding career.
How would you describe your photography practice?
At the moment – super busy. Traditionally I’ve lived what I call ‘the mystery lifestyle’ – which is another way of saying ‘being a freelance photographer’. You really don’t know what’s going to happen, or when the money is going to come in. I might be doing 18 hour days – for days on end, or then have a few jobs only trickling in over a month. But it all averages out over the year. Now I’m teaching part time at TAFE 3 days, editing at Capture 3 days and still shooting – so kind of cramming 8 days into 7 is a bit of challenging time management. Fortunately, it is doing something that I love and am passionate about.
Who/what inspires you?
Photographically: Arnold Newman, Martin Parr and Eugene von Guerard. In life, some of the old school philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius. I believe in always trying to upgrade my personality – not sure if it’s working but I’m trying. Otherwise as cheesy as it sounds – the world inspires me – it’s endlessly fascinating.
How do you choose landscapes to photograph? In other words, when does an environment turn into a picture for you?
It’s about being there. It’s about knowing when something is different or interesting and often on multiple planes (foreground/ midground/ background). I was staying at a friend’s house and went for an afternoon walk and shot some things on my phone. I showed them the photos later that evening and they asked where I had taken them. They were surprised when I told them that it was their neighborhood. They just don’t take the time to look – or don’t look at things photographically.
Going to an incredible landscape is one thing – but how do you capture it? In a couple of cases I’ve known to return at a different time of day (or even time of the year). Sometimes it’s a case of literally the stars aligning to get the best result. Other times other random elements can enter the frame – whether it be clouds, waves, animals or people that give a landscape that final special ingredient.
How has becoming Editor of Capture Magazine affected your photographic career?
I’ve always worn many hats in the industry and was a video game reviewer, travel writer, interviewer and photographer for numerous magazines in the past (at one stage I was working for over 7 magazines a month). So the magazine system isn’t new to me. Being an editor is a great vehicle to meet more people in the industry and it’s opened up doors to test drive more equipment and gadgets.
Has teaching photography impacted your practice?
It compartmentalizes all your knowledge into a teachable form and it’s surprising how much knowledge you accumulate over the years without even thinking about it. The thing that stands out is not only being able to share this knowledge of the photographic industry, but also all the challenges you experience. Problem-solving is what we constantly do as photographers. Teaching has also reinforced that as photographers, we are constantly failing and getting on with it. For example, if you were to shoot a wedding you may take 3,000 or more images and only keep 1,000. You are succeeding only 33% of the time. We take so many images and only keep a few. This is what you see with students – they think all their photos should be good from the outset and are disappointed and discouraged when they are not. They have to learn how to fail faster to get better images and not be so precious.
What is some advice you would give about landscape photography?
Enjoy the journey. You either research where you are going to go and shoot that, though I’d rather be spontaneous and travel to somewhere I don’t know and just wander. That unknowingness is what makes things interesting. That is the only way you are going to take more original photos. Be patient, be prepared to wake up early, and always bring snacks.
His landscapes are striking with a hyper-realistic aura – his greens are greener, his blues are bluer, his deserts drier, his fires hotter. This has led to Tim winning several world-renowned landscape awards, inlcuding the Head On Landscape Awards in 2013 with an image from his Lost Vegas series.
To keep the conversation going, book your spot for Learning the Land and join us online at 12:30pm AEST on Wednesday, 17 May.
Head On Photo Awards
The Head On Photo Awards represent a global selection of the best work from emerging and established photographers across four categories: Portrait | Landscape | Environmental | Student