He went from country to city, moving from the Hunter Valley to Sydney to pursue his photography dreams. Bryce Thomas went from taking photos of his mates at the local pier to working with some of the biggest names in fashion, creating an impressive portfolio of work.
We sat down and chatted to Bryce about his passion for photography and what it’s like trying to succeed in the competitive industry.
What lead you into photography?
In early high school, my mum had a camera, it was fairly simple. It had zoom and it was pretty bulky, basically it was just a point and shoot. I really liked that, I started taking photos and I don’t even really know why. Always hanging out with friends and family, I came to really love taking photos of people. My first photos were literally just my friends at a pier or something like, and I got really into angles and editing.
Is it difficult to go into portrait photography considering the world we live in? (Everyone has access to photography and a platform to share it eg. Instagram.)
It definitely makes it more competitive in a field sense, but it also makes it easy in the sense that the spectrum of photography has increased so much. There are now so many different avenues a portrait photographer can exist. If you look at others as competition then it is more hard. If you look at your soul as a segment then not so much, maybe it’s still the same. Maybe the changing industry has even given people the room to express themselves in different ways that perhaps people wouldn’t have been able to 20 years ago. Someone now can casually be a photographer, which I think is really great considering I have been completely self taught.
Do you think our well connected world, was beneficial for your photography?
The pros, in a general sense would be that we are more well connected and there is more scope for people to know what (style of photography) they love. I had sort have been taking photos and I really got into Flickr (such a wonderful thing when I was in my teens). It was a great way to pick up photography because it was just this online community of other people that just loved to take photos. They might have been in Canada or Central America and you could see what they were doing. They would post about their gear which was also really beneficial. So really, now a wide audience can see what you can do and appreciate your work. I also made some weird commissions that thanks to my Flickr.
Equally though, the whole Instagram world is kinda feeding mediocrity and a very inexperienced photographer can easily post and everyone think that it’s the worlds best thing. But it’s definitely not worth worrying about. It’s easy to see how much attention someone gets (on Instagram) and then you want to do what they do. But it comes down to doing what you want to do. With your specific interests you have to have a lot of self confidence.
What (in your eyes) has been the most successful project to date?
One of the proudest things I created would be ‘Wake’ my series at Bondi. That was over 150 portraits and I did it very inclusively. It was also a very good learning process. But the photos (I took) were just so beautiful and so raw – and if I could deliver a photo to someone in that sense, that makes me so happy.
Do you think moving forward, do you want to be successful in your following or just continue to fulfill a more raw form of photography?
I think that there is a middle ground there and I think that is defining success in a different way. I just want to produce the things I love and for the people I work with to respect that. And that is what I’m looking for, and that’s how I know I’m doing it right. If I get to work with someone that I admire in a career sense and they are impressed with my work then that is the biggest success for me.
Who has been the most iconic person you have worked with?
I am very lucky to work with a man named Mark Vassallo, I have been working with him for just over a year. I just worked with him for two weeks over fashion week and he did five or six shows there. I did fitting photos with him, portraits of the models and photos of his creative direction. I love his work so much and I reached out to him about two and a half years ago, I can’t remember why, but he replied and asked me to come into his office. We met up, and it was 12 months later that I got to work with him as well as Fitbit and Ten Pieces. We did a huge film production in Newcastle and I collaborated with him then. Everytime I work with him it’s really awesome.
Did you think you would be speaking about your successes five years ago?
No way, five years ago I was literally finishing school and I wanted to be a journalist. I was also a classical singer growing up. But you know what, I picked Sydney cause I thought I could do it all here. I started a media and video degree and one year in decided I just wanted to pursue photography, so I decided I just wanted to get out of uni as soon as possible. Because well, f*ck uni, you know?
Would your advice be to find the pockets in life you’re passionate about and forget about the linear timeline?
I would say overall, support and allow yourself to faciiliate and encourage opportunities in your passion area. I did that loosely following that linear timeline, so I did go to uni and I still wouldn’t change the way I did it. In terms of career opportunities, there is no real photography in the Hunter Valley, but in terms of what I wanted to work for, choosing linear in Sydney was a good idea for that. I was lucky that my uni was not heavy in face time, so I had time to be inspired outside of uni. Being in Sydney, I was able to take opportunities and just take off three days of uni. Fashion Week was in my last year of uni and I took a whole week off to pursue that. Realise what you can have and what you do have.
What is next for you?
There is no frame of reference for me, cause I freelance. But I really want to over the next six months is to strengthen my portfolio, and get really confident in making work I’m really proud of. Once I get a little more work together and taking that to Australian agencies. But I actually started writing a script for a short film, as well as another photography book idea. It’s about photographing young tennagers in suburban Australia around trainlines.