• Colour and Perspective - Ben Thomas, theprintspace Interview

Colour and Perspective - Ben Thomas, theprintspace Interview

By theprintspace

© Ben Thomas
All images © Ben Thomas
Australian visual artist Ben Thomas opens Chroma, his first UK exhibition, this week at theprintspace. Ameena Rojee speaks to him for their weekly guest post to find out more about his hypnotic and unusual style, and what it is about the urban landscape that draws him in.
Ben’s exhibition takes place this week, launching Thursday 14th April from 7.30pm with a private view at theprintspace Gallery. The event is open invite, so please feel free to come along! The exhibition will continue until May 2nd, Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm. More information here.
Hi Ben. What’s your story? How did you get involved in the creative industry?I started out in life shooting a lot of video, mostly for local bands in Adelaide. I really loved it, and I knew pretty much there and then that I wanted to spend my time working in the creative industry. Those few early years led me to studying multimedia and 3D animation at college. From there it took a little while to really figure out what I wanted to do, and it was around 2007 that I picked up an SLR for the first time! And that's where it all really started.
© Ben Thomas
Can you tell us about your typical working day?I'm pretty lucky in that most days are different. Typically, my days are split between shooting, post-production, then all of the business admin stuff that you need to nail if you want to keep shooting. I'm big on getting a roll on, so I'll usually spend at least a few hours working on one task before moving on to the next.

You have an incredible aesthetic in your work that regularly stumps viewers in regards to how it was achieved. I know you won’t reveal your trick, and I won’t ask you - however, can you tell us how you came to discover your unusual style?
Oh thanks! I spent a long time fine-tuning Chroma. I had spent a long time shooting Cityshrinker and was really keen to do something completely different and fresh. There was a whole heap of experimentation - over a year - before I landed on something that I was happy with showing. I remember hitting it while shooting Bondi Beach in January of 2015; it was a real mix of excitement and relief to land on it, and I've really enjoyed experimenting further with it since.
© Ben Thomas
What is it about the urban landscape that attracts you?I really love studying the scale of cities, how people interact with them and how design and architecture have influenced their development. No two cities are the same, and almost all are transforming before our eyes. Personally, the way I look at urban spaces has changed dramatically over time too; what I saw through the camera 5 years ago is drastically different to what I see now. That in itself has been really interesting.

You’ve had a pretty successful photographic career so far - can you tell us of one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced? And on the other hand, tell us about one of your high points?
Without a doubt the process of re-inventing myself after working on Cityshrinker for around 7 years was the biggest challenge I've faced so far. I had a great time shooting the series but in retrospect I spent too long working on it. I was pigeon-holed as a tilt shift photographer and started to not enjoy shooting as much as I once had. I took a break for over a year to reassess what I wanted to do, and to start developing some new work. Being able to come up for air after that process was a real thrill.

One of my high points was being invited to spend two months in residency with the Villa Lena Foundation. It was an amazing time with some amazing people where I felt as though things were really starting to click into place.
© Ben Thomas
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© Ben Thomas
All images © Ben Thomas
What’s next for you? Have you got any new projects in the works?I’m in Europe now to show my new series Chroma for the first time in London (details here). I'm really excited to be working with you guys at theprintspace to produce the show. I'm also shooting some more work which will end up being set as Chroma II here in Europe and through the USA over the next month.
Finally, what inspires you?Seeing Andreas Gursky's work for the first time set into motion a real desire to explore photography more seriously. For me, he is the master of scale and technical execution. Over the past few years my major inspiration has been Jeffery Smart, a painter from the same hometown as me (Adelaide, Australia). His use of colour and perspective is impeccable -  something that I really admire.

That’s it from us today - keep an eye on our guest posts for the World Photography Organisation each week, we’ll be speaking to more industry professionals and also talking about a variety of topics including paper types at theprintspace, making social media work for you, pricing your images, thehub and more!