Return To Blog 19 August 2014

Snapshots: Shelton Woolright

Shelton Woolright is a kiwi creative. His works touch on urban life and popular culture expressed through a multitude of mediums that include street art, music and photography. His creative influence is inspired whilst touring internationally as the drummer for the alternative rock outfit 'I Am Giant'

Graduating from University with a BA in Design, majoring in Photography, Shelton fell right into a record deal as the drummer for iconic New Zealand band Blindspott. 

How did you come to the world of photography?

I took photography class in 5th form during high school. I seemed to pick it up quickly and funnily enough my grades were better than any of my other classes. That gave me the confidence to continue on in 6th and 7th form .. After leaving high school I when to university where i graduated with a BA in Design majoring in Photography.. and here I am now. I'm very blessed as I'm in a touring band so there is never a shortage of interesting subjects in front of my lens.  

Who are the photographers that inspire you?

During my degree I studied all the classic photographers through the art history papers etc. I found it a bit hard to relate to some of those photographers and didn't really appreciate them as much as I do now. In my early days of shooting I always gravitated to urban street photography, which is a common subject matter but I never seemed to find any photographers that inspired me and that were celebrated at art school for doing what I was doing like photography graffiti and skateboarding... 

What motivates you on a daily basis to pursue your love of photography?

I don't really need motivation to take pictures, it's a passion for me, id rather be shooting than not. That doesn't mean I take photos every day but more than often I'll have my camera with me. I'm mostly inspired by adventuring around new places while on tour and documenting my experiences and what ever captures my eye. I live for that feeling you get when you know your getting something special, when an opportunity presents it's self out of no where and you capture that moment. For me that's equally as rewarding as walking out on stage, playing in front of thousands of people. 

Do you have a unifying theme that flows throughout your photographs?

I'm not sure, I think there is something going on as I get quite a few people that say my photos are distinctive and have a certain recurring quality to them that is me, which I think is cool. I think its important to have your own style and 'periods' throughout your career, as long as you’re always evolving and keeping it fresh. If you asked me what mine is now I wouldn't be able to tell you, maybe you can tell me haha.

If there's one piece of advice you could give someone just starting out with photography what would it be?

Interesting question because I don't think anyone starting out needs advice once they have their head around the functions of the camera. I don't believe there is a right or wrong way to take a photo. If your view and settings are a conscious decision and you get the photo you envisioned then power to you, that's what its all about.. If we were to take advice on how to shoot something from someone else they might as well take the photo. I love the freedom of photography its a beautiful subtle form of self expression. I guess If you love taking photos you'll find your way, your inspiration will come don't rush it. Like anything practice make perfect. Young photographers are in a different era now with digital. When I started, I started on film so it was a bit more riskier experimenting. I didn't have the money to waste on film but the reward was so much more exciting. I remember not being able to afford to develop rolls of film months after I'd shot them. I remember the butterflies I'd get going through the photos especially if id nailed that moment. That doesn't really happen anymore now days. Its so easy to shoot adjust shoot and move on.

What's your one piece of equipment you couldn't live without?

I absolutely love my Canon15mm Fish Eye lens. It was the first lens I saved up to buy. Its not used that much as a lot of people find it’s gimmicky, but I think its the way you use it. It was a necessity for me back then shooting skateboarding photography and urban culture. A close second would be my Canon 24mm 1.4.

Have you injured yourself in pursuit of a shot?

Haha! Nothing serious but I have put my self in some dangerous positions in front of flying skateboards. When I was younger I documented a graffiti scene in NZ, from painting trains to roof tops.. There was a lot of running from security, hiding under trains, bushes and being put some scary situations. I have some incredible photos and memories and documented a movement I’d love to exhibit one day. This year I was the head photographer for the Big Day Out festival, I had to photograph every band live! By the end of the day I seriously couldn't walk I was running around like a maniac all day ha ha it was great but I was so sore for days after, it felt like I'd run a marathon. 

Is there an area of photography you'd like to explore more? 

I'm working hard at the moment on being really creative with my photography thinking more artistically behind the lens, not just taking a 'photo'. I love exhibiting and have my first solo show in Paris early next year which I just finished shooting for. I created the set and objects i shot.. nothing as crazy as David Lachapelle ha! But it was a lot of fun ( and hard work) so I'd love to keep going down that path and see where it takes me.. Also I have a bunch of touring coming up so I'll always be shooting form my hip while on the road, capturing those moments and pushing myself in that area.

What piece of equipment is next on the photography shopping list?

Hmm, I'm thinking I'd like some good studio lights only because my last two shoots I used lights which isn't really that common but something I'm doing more of.. But if we're talking lenes? I'd probably say I'd love to get my hands on a Canon 50mm 1.2.

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