An Interview with Tim Swallow

Let us introduce you to the v talented Tim Swallow. You might recognise some of his work in a few of our campaigns, or also because he's a well-known name around town. Tim's imagery depicts a series of lost worlds in which scenes of spontaneous revelry break out against a backdrop of striking and lurid landscapes. His work is a journey exploring his carefree generation – it is in the sweet liminal zone between music, fashion and a perpetually sun-soaked life that edges on the unashamedly hedonistic, yet unabashed innocence of youth culture.

Following the success of Tim's latest Sydney exhibitions 'We Live Today' and its predecessor ‘If We Die Tomorrow’, we offered for him to take the show on the road for a combined exhibition at our new studio space (Black Moon Studio) in Byron Bay. To celebrate the exhibition this Friday, Nat sat down with Tim to ask him a few burning questions. We hope you enjoy it, and we hope to see you there this Friday.

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Nat: Timmy Boi! Firstly, congrats on the new show. Sydney looked like it went off. How was it received in ye olde home town?

Tim: Thanks, Nat aka 'Batt Boy'. It was great, I got a lot of press and sales. We had roughly 400 through the door on the opening night and another 300 over the weekend.

The show was full of laughs, everyone was catching up with new friends and old. I was so exhausted by the end of it all I didn't even make it to my own after-party - That's not to say that everyone else that got there didn't give it a good nudge!

Nat: And now we’re bringing the show to Byron - What is your relationship with Byron and what prompted you to bring the show up here? 

Tim: Byron was actually the first place I came up with the initial concept for these shows. It was a halcyon afternoon, everyone was feeling it and I had my camera, so I shot it. In saying that - it was the first shoot I'd done in that tone and there was a lot of room for improvement in regards to direction. Nothing was planned, it was just a spontaneous moment. I knew I had an idea to expand on, so I treated it as a learning experience, something to work on and 'If We Die Tomorrow' was born. 

After the success of my recent Sydney show 'We Live Today' I was offered the opportunity to exhibit both exhibitions at Black Moon Studio by my good pals at Thrills. I'm excited for Byron to finally see these images in the flesh. I shot two or three concepts up there so it will be cool for people to identify locations and friends involved.

Nat: For a fashion photographer not a lot of your talent seem to be wearing much in the way of fashion/anything at all in either this show or your previous. Is minimal clothing something that is premeditated when conceptualising a project like this, or does it happen more organically as each shot comes to life? 

Tim: It's pretty much all premeditated. It's a concept, a return to our natural state. There’s a point in time as a child when nudity is completely acceptable, however as we grow as humans we conform and feel totally masked by our inhibitions. 

Embracing our surrounds, being present and spontaneous was a huge inspiration. As for the nudity, well... Everything is more fun in the nude. ha

The first exhibition 'If We Die Tomorrow' was more spontaneous, yet still planned. 'We Live Today' was finessed yet still buck wild and free. At its heart this is not some hippy shit, it's punk, not necessary in aesthetic but by attitude. A disarming of cultural constraints. Flipping the bird to consumerism and the technical shackles that seem to hold us, and letting go.

Nat: A lot of people ask about inspiration within the photography landscape, but what inspires your work outside of photography? 

Tim: Surfing, music, art, friends, family and travelling bring me so much joy and inspiration. I couldn't achieve what I do without all of those elements in my life on a day-to-day.

Nat: When planning a shoot or shot, there are 2 types of people in this world. There are the people who plan everything down to the most minute detail - And then you have the others, who prefer to wing it and just let the magic happen naturally. Your work seems more about capturing those real life, candid, in-between moments. How detail orientated are you in your planning? Is the personality and real-ness that shines through in your imagery a product of your relaxed & loose shooting style, or is that something that you work hard to create through a calculated approach? 

Tim: I'm calculated to a point, times, dates, location, equipment and talent etc. But once we are ready to shoot I drop all expectations, inhibition and concerns. I shoot fast and loose. I embrace what mother nature throws at me whilst on location and shoot the 'bigger' picture when in a studio. I like things to be chaotic yet controlled. 

Nat: And lastly, you destroyed my bike creating one of the shots in the show - Will I be reimbursed? 

Tim: I'm pretty sure nobody actually owned the bikes in that shoot. So I'll answer your question with another question. 

If I was to steal you a bike from the back of Cheeky Monkeys at roughly 3.30am on Sunday morning would we be square? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a bike for a bike. 

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