Why photographers should volunteer to be photographed

Exploring creativity, identity and vulnerability, Warwick Gow is busy racking up an impressive portfolio of intimate moments, hang tens and lively shows. Shooting gigs like Kimbra, The Presets, Brian Jonestown Massacre and more recently, Los Growlers, Warwick captures the essence to relive the night’s energy. Testing the boundaries of photography with self-portraits, Warwick encourages photographers to explore themselves as well as their art.

With no signs of slowing the pace, Warwick continues to expand his knowledge and dip his toes into new mediums and directions. We’ve managed to hustle a few answers out of him to understand what goes through the mind behind the lens.

How’s 2019 so far?

Pretty good, I thought it was going to be a quiet start but I’ve already been able to shoot with so many amazing people. It throws me out a bit that people keep wanting to shoot.

What’s on your bucket list this year?

I’ve got a couple big projects that are starting to ramp up, so finishing them this year would be amazing. One’s my ‘Naked in the Rain’ series where I’m hoping I can photograph a hundred people nude in the rain over a year, to eventually raise money for mental health programs. 

What do you strive to capture with your photography?

Personality and vulnerability. I shoot a lot usually but slowly, stopping to constantly talk to get to know the people I’m working with. 

We’ve noticed you have an alias, Rubbed the Lamp, was this to seperate yourself from your work?

It started as my blog name on tumblr, I’m not even sure where it came from at the time. But as I started shooting and more forms of social media came along I ran with it because I liked the anonymity it gave me. I wanted it to be about my work and not me. In the last year I’ve stopped using that alias purely because I was starting to get more commercial work, but it’s still around waiting to make a come back.

Digital or Analog?

I shoot mainly digital but if I had to give up one, it would definitely be digital. I started out with film and just love everything about the whole process.

Do you prefer to work for yourself?

Yes and no. I guess it comes down to the project. In the last year, I’ve been reaching out to more and more people to either work with them or learn from them. Photography can be fairly isolating but there’s no reason you can’t work with other creatives whether on projects or group shows.

Is there any stress with freelancing i.e. superannuation, tax, not enough work?

Yeah heaps, I still have a casual night job I work a couple nights a week to keep some steady income. As for the rest of the finance side of things I’m still working that stuff out honestly. I do love the hustle of it all though, and the freedom to take your work in so many different directions. 

There’s a self portrait of you naked face down on the ground. Inspired and devoted to Ren Hang, tell us a bit about this shot.

I’ve always loved Ren Hang’s work and his confidence to express himself so freely, especially in such a conservative country. Then one day I woke up and found out he’d committed suicide. It took me over a year of trying to get a shot I thought did his memory justice and paid homage to how much he inspired me to push my own boundaries. 

Do you think photographers should explore self portrait shoots?

That or volunteer to be photographed/drawn, whatever really, it’s about knowing  what your subjects going through when you photograph them. I’m a big believer in not getting anyone to do anything you haven’t done yourself. As for self portraits I think they help give you a better understanding of yourself, I don’t know if you really know who you are until you’re running nude in the woods or snow to beat your camera timer for a photo. 

What is your overall goal when doing freelance portrait shoots?

I want to capture people the way they see themselves when they are having a really good day. Those days where you wake up and just think “fuck yeah, I’m me.”, that’s what I want to capture. Usually on first shoots I ask people to bring whatever makes them comfortable, the things they love or that resonate with them. There’s no pressure to get any really good shots but that’s normally how I’ve gotten some of my favourite portraits.

Do you spend time editing photos or prefer to keep them untouched?

I do the standard amount of editing but pretty well refuse to do any retouching unless its for commercial work. I love seeing the raw beauty on everyone and embracing everything regardless of whether it’s pretty or not. 

What is something to consider whilst shooting live events i.e. bands, surfing etc.?

Being as prepared as possible and not just for you but for others around you. For surfing I try to always have wax and spare leggies in the van in case who ever is meant to be surfing forgets something. Little things like that can mean you miss what you were there to capture in the first place. When I’m shooting gigs I just always try to get there a couple hours earlier because you never know what may happen between then and getting in the pit to shoot. It’s saved me from missing shows more times then I can count. 


Cover image by Warwick Gow
Inset by Warwick Gow

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