Interview : DAMIAN BENNETT, Photographer

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Tommy. Damian Bennett (avail. at Apache Rose)

The Cape. Damian Bennett (avail. at Apache Rose)

Swim. Damian Bennett

Stem. Damian Bennett

Today's interview is another special one! We are extremely lucky to have an incredibly talented friend in esteemed Sydney photographer Damian Bennett and are so thrilled to debut his collection of limited edition prints in store at Apache Rose.

Damian began his photographic career 17 years ago in Sydney landing his dream job in a professional darkroom. His hard work paid-off and after learning the craft of black & white printing and processing, he quickly moved on to assist some of Sydney’s best photographers. A three year stint in London working and traveling with UK based photographers followed and saw Damian working in New York, South Africa, Italy, France, Greece South America and Spain.

The knowledge gained from working with such experienced and talented photographers is evident in Damian’s work today as his effortless and polished style shows both technical depth and a comfortable rapport with his subjects.

Damian now lives in Sydney and specializes in portraits, advertising and fashion. You have likely seen his work on editorial covers and billboards around the country with his vast body of work including regular clients such as Rolling Stone, Instyle, Sunday Style, Sunday Life, Australian Women's Weekly, The Financial Review magazine, Grazia, The Good Weekend & Women’s and Men’s Health and advertising clients including Toyota, Farage, Lorna Jane, Russell Athletic, Davenport, MacPherson men, Qantas, Bendon, Gillette and Milk and Co.  

His list of portraits is rapidly growing and consists of acclaimed actors and celebrity personalities such as Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, Marco Pierre White, Mark Webber and Harry Kewell. 

Damian's powerful work and professionalism has earnt him a notable position in the industry and his humble, calm nature make him a pleasure to work with. We are honoured and excited to introduce Damian and his collection of personal work to you. We are sure you will love it as much as we do!

How did you first get into photography?

I picked up a camera in year 10 art class and something about the process of taking pictures and developing them in the dark room resinated with me. I think it offered me an escape and something that made me explore the people and places around me.

What led you to the type of work you do today?

The type of work I do today is largely a reflection of my years as an assistant photographer. I always assisted fashion, portrait and advertising photographers and my work is a mix of these things a lot of the time. I’m very much working more on portraiture but to have the knowledge of the process of fashion behind you is a very important thing. I also believe that your work is a reflection of you as a person and I naturally gravitate to people.

How did you find the transition going out on your own?

I found it a tough thing to do and it took me a few years but I was fortunate enough to get a long job overseas that helped me save money and buy the equipment I needed to start. I also relied on some very lovely people who gave me my breaks early on.

What influences your style?

Technology has a lot to do with the style of my work. It use to be the film we used and the way we processed it but now it’s more the software and the file that we are working with that can create an overall style. I think with digital photography there are sometimes trends that people start to follow and it usually comes from the guys at the top level of the industry because they are usually at the forefront of the technology and working with the best teams.

You have such a diverse range of work shooting from the passenger seat with Mark Webber to the cover of Rolling Stone! Do you gravitate towards one style more than the other or do you enjoy the diversity? How does your approach differ for each?

I gravitate towards work that is going to test me and make me push myself as a photographer. I also gravitate to nature a lot in my down time because I find such amazing movement and energy that helps me balance out the world of working to a brief. I approach every job no matter how different from the last in very much the same way. I visualise the day before I get there and I try and figure out my lighting and the feeling of the day so when I get there I have it mostly worked out and it flows a lot better. It doesn’t always mean that the images are going to look like you imagined. It’s usually quite the opposite but if you have given yourself the chance to get the stressful part done before you arrive you can let the day unfold and take it as it comes. That’s when you get great images.  

Will.i.Am for Maxim Mag USA

Russell Crowe for Australian Women's Weekly

Your portraits are beautiful! You have shot some of the world's biggest names; Russell Crowe, Will i Am, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Marco Pierre White just to name a few. What do you think the key is to a beautiful portrait?

I think the key to a beautiful portrait is first and foremost your connection with the subject. If you don’t take the time to connect with them you won’t usually get the best image. My approach for portraiture with celebrities in particular is preparation first then make sure the connection is made. Doing your research on the person is very important also. I then try and make the shoot fun easy, enjoyable and quick because they are usually very busy.

Can you tell us a career highlight or favourite shoot?

A career highlight for me would be shooting backstage with Jennifer Lopez for People Magazine U.S. So amazing to see the machine behind the performance and get to go where everyone wants to be. A favourite shoot was one I recently did in Bali with Michael and Lindy Klim for their brand Milk and Co. Good people great location and amazing pictures.

Jennifer Lopez backstage for People Magazine U.S.

Mark Webber for Sport and Style Magazine

What would be your dream photographic job to work on in the future?

It sounds a bit stupid but I’ve always wanted to shoot the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I don’t know why but I i think they were one of the first bands I loved as a teenager and I’d like to meet them and shoot portraits of them. In L.A though. :) Them or the Rolling Stones. HaHa.

Can you name three place you look to for inspiration?

Number one would be nature. Two would be books and three would have to be other creatives.

Who inspires you creatively? Who else must we know about doing great things?!

I get inspired from my peers a lot. Other working photographers are a great source of inspiration because it’s almost like a silent competition where you consistently seeing what they’ve done and thinking 'mmmmm I wonder how they lit that or I wish I had of thought of that'.

Other people doing great things... I would have to say my wife. She is an extremely talented make up artist who works on a lot of top magazines and advertising campaigns. She does it all so effortlessly and has a natural talent. Look her up. Naomi McFadden :)

Also another local photographer Tim Ashton. He has a natural talent and ease to his fashion work that I envy. Watch that space for sure there are bigger things coming for him.

Do you have any advice for people starting out as a photographer?

I always say the same thing when I’m talking to young photographers. I am from the old school thought that you learn your craft from people who have experience. I say take your time and learn the right way because then you will have longevity in your career. 

Check out more of Damian's work which can be purchased in store at Apache Rose or in our online store here.

Be sure to visit Damian at
and on instagram @ damianbennettphoto

Jescinta Campbell for Sunday Style

Karl Stefanovic for Sunday Style

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