November 16, 2020
Photography by Tony Reddrop
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Life is full of unexpected turns, and for Tony Reddrop, that turn came in his late thirties. Tony had been working for years, and as he grew a little bit older and wiser, he decided to take a leap of faith. He left his job and embraced his newfound passion for photography. It was a blessing in disguise, and it has led Tony to great success and recognition.
Tony's work has been featured in Australia, New Zealand and internationally in all types of media forms. His bodies of work are held in several institutions in Australia, and it has attracted the attention of many. His series of images CROSSINGS reflect the people of a small semi-rural town in New Zealand he lives in, and the light and shadow of his images tell a story of mystery and anonymity.
The journey of Tony Reddrop is inspiring and will surely leave an impression. What he has been able to capture through his lens is truly remarkable and unique. From the hustle and bustle of a big city to the quietness of a small rural town, Tony Reddrop continues to share his story through his beautifully composed images.
“I kept observing people walking across certain crossings in town at different times of the day when the light was really mellow (glowing) and noticed many people were wearing really great colours, that blended with the crossings and the backgrounds. The way I shoot a lot of the time, under exposed and not fully showing the person, worked really well, so I kept going back to the different locations, which when you live in a small town of 90,000 people, is not a lot.
The idea of the series is how you can live in a town for years, but not really feel you know the people, who are just passing mysterious shadow figures. The images in the series show an insight into what could be something darker, lying just under the surface, that has become increasingly more visible in the town, health, and social issues.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH TONY REDDROP
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Tony please tell us about yourself? When did you start getting into photography?
TONY REDDROP: I am an Australian photographer (from Melbourne originally) living in the North Island of New Zealand for the past 12 years. I am also a dad to three girls, so juggling time has become an art form.
I started photography later in life, in early 2000, did some short courses at tech, was a wedding photographer's assistant (didn’t last long), then a commercial photographer's assistant, did some more formal college study (two goes at that), then some time at press photography, starting at local papers, working up to the daily's. So it would be fair to say, I had done and tried a bit of everything, before finding what I wanted to do, documentary and portrait photography.
Add to all the above a few years spent walking the streets of Melbourne taking photos of people and whatever interested me, usually light and shadow, all on black and white film. I tend to look and observe, and capture images when something catches my eye, the light, shapes, shadows, colour, or interesting people, things that would make a great environmental portrait, or stories that can make great documentary. I usually don’t take a lot of images every time I am out shooting, and I shoot to the mood of the area I am in.
I have exhibited my work since 2000, mainly solo shows, in Australia and New Zealand, and have bodies of work held in collections of various national and state organisations in Australia. I have shown work at international photo festivals and had my work featured on radio, television, and in print.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration to photograph?
TR: I mainly find inspiration from things I see, and people I meet in everyday life. Also inspiration from the many different photographers on Instagram who are doing longer term projects.
TPL: Is there anything you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
TR: Humanity and what we are really seeing in the images of the people. Colour, light and shadows, a story...
TPL: Do you prefer to photograph alone or with friends?
TR: Always alone.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
TR: I made a point of not looking at photography books, for the first couple of years, so I would not be influenced by others.
Believe in yourself! Because you must always believe in your talent, it gives you the strength to keep going.
TPL: Has your style of photographing changed since you first started?
TR: My style has changed over the years, the biggest shift has been in the past six years, after returning to photography, after an eight year hiatus. Images I take now are mostly colour, and have even more contrast than when I first started. I now tend to look and observe more, shoot less, but more quality, and if it's not happening, I don’t worry.
TPL: How does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
TR: I use (as I always have) a prime lens (23 mm/35 mm equivalent) and mirrorless cameras. I have used SLRs. All usually set around f2.8.
Looking like a tourist or a happy snapper, helps me to fit in, is less intrusive.
TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
TR: Melbourne City. So much going on, and the light, and the surrounding suburbs...
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
TR: Over the summer break, I want to start documenting the major change to a small rural town of 700 people. It is having a railway freight hub built just outside the town, like 800 yards out of town. The freight hub will be 7 km long, operating 24/7, so the noise, light pollution etc, is going to change peoples' lives forever. Add to this a new ring road to bring big trucks to the rail yard, that will run through or close to the town. Paradise lost.
TPL: What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
TR: Publish a book, or books. Get the funding to do so. Getting and doing commissioned work and projects, globally. Major public exhibitions, globally. Getting a web page up (aaah the money). Family first too. A financial patron, who is involved in the arts.
TPL: “When I am not out photographing, I (like to)...
TR: Stay at home spending time with the family, watching good documentaries and films.”
Tony Reddrop's journey in photography has been a truly inspiring story of how late starts can still be successful. His experience and wisdom have truly come through in his work, which has been widely celebrated in Australia, New Zealand and internationally. Tony's series is just a glimpse of his talent, as it captures the beauty of people in a rural town. To see more of Tony's projects and explore his work further, use the links below.