How two young explorers became one of the leading lifestyle photography duos: Interview with Ian & Erick
By Anna Spasova
Ian & Erick are two brothers who have been working side by side creating stunning lifestyle and sports photography for the past two decades. Read our interview with Ian, who shared with us some of his interesting thoughts on photography, creativity, innovation, and much more.
Production Paradise: To begin with, could you tell us a little bit more about yourself and how was your passion for photography born?
Ian: Erick and I were born in Mauritius, a little island in the Indian Ocean. Mum and Dad had a beach house where we spend countless hours in the ocean. We were big fans of Jacques Cousteau, The French underwater explorer, so much so that we created our own little “Cousteau club” and called our yellow sailing boat “Calypso”. Dad bought us our first camera when we were 15. It was a Minolta Weathermatic, you know, the one that is yellow, goes underwater and takes those tiny films. We were shooting quite a bit with it, thinking that our shots were great… little did we know back then!
Our parents moved to Australia when we were 16 and then 9 years later, after university, Erick decided to start photography. I joined him six months later part-time and the rest is history. We started to work for a local surfing magazine called Wetside News and started travelling the world following the surfing circuit and taking photos of Kelly Slater and the likes for the magazine. Later on, we became senior photographers for Tracks magazine and were submitting to more than 15 magazines worldwide. Around 2006 we started seeing the writing on the wall with digital and decided to pull out of the surfing industry and focus on more Lifestyle and Portraiture photography, a skill that we acquired while shooting surfing. In 2008, we stopped shooting surfing and made the transition to shoot for advertising agencies and corporate clients.
Production Paradise: From your point of view, what makes a good picture?
Ian: A good eye! We constantly hear people telling us all these rules of third and other, whatsoever, rules you need to follow. There are no rules in photography!!! You can do something crazy blurry but it can come out really cool and if your audience digs it – that is what matters the most. We have seen plenty of great stuff coming out where you say “You did what????“ but still, with some amazing results.
Production Paradise: Since photography trends change quickly, it is important to stay relevant. What do you do to keep up to date?
Ian: Every year, Erick and I sit down and see what we can do to up our game. Everything these days can be achieved by almost anyone, so you have to ask yourself “Why would a company or an ad agency call you?” By experimenting and doing a personal project you, kind of, make sure that you are pushing limits and people like to see out of the box things. It doesn’t need to always be super radical, it could be just something as simple as adding a gel to your lights for a series of portraits.
Production Paradise: How does being a photographer duo play out? What advantages does it bring vs. working solo?
Ian: I think our greatest asset is to bounce ideas back and forth on the shoot and to provide solutions for our clients. We all see things differently so an extra set of eyes is very valuable. On the shoot, Erick will see something from a different angle and he will then take the camera from me and start shooting, then I become his supporting assistant. Also, we work well together meaning, most of the time Erick will know where to put the light for the effects we want to achieve! A great photo is a collaboration of great people so this plays an important part in the process.
Production Paradise: Who influenced you the most? Is there an artist that you consider as an idol or an inspiration?
Ian: We were influenced by Jacques Yves Cousteau, Herb Ritz, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Paolo Roversi, Peter Beard and so many others… But although we admire all these photographers, our work is youth based and fresh so I guess we kind of got a little bit out of all these books we were looking at in the past of these great photographers. More recently and although quite controversial, Terry Richardson has been shooting some amazing campaign that we love. We also love Ryan McGinley’s and Steve Lippman’s work.
Production Paradise: What, in your opinion, is the most important thing to consider while shooting lifestyle images?
Ian: Everything is important in a shoot and everything comes together to make a great photo but by far you need great talent with good energy! You have that then everything else is secondary!
Production Paradise: You have a long list of impressive clients – from Red Bull to National Geographic and The New York Times. What would you say is the most essential quality to land big names?
Ian: A great portfolio that shows consistency is very important! Great work always speaks for itself. Once you have that, you need the ability to convey your objective for the shoot with confidence and the ability to negotiate a fair fee. Most of the time people would not mind paying a little more for quality work that works for them. The ability to adapt on a shoot is also important, as things not always go according to plan!
Production Paradise: You’ve been in the photography business for over 25 years – how would you say it changed since you’ve started and do you have any prediction for the future of the commercial photography business?
Ian: There are plenty of exciting things for the future of photography but for a professional to be employed, he needs to be better than the mass and deliver not just good work but great consistent work, innovate, be fresh, break rules and be a problem solver for your clients – then the clients will love you.
Production Paradise: What are you working on at the moment? Would you like to reveal an exciting upcoming project?
Ian: Besides working on some speed blur stuff at the moment, Erick and I did a series of 4×5 underwater Polaroid about 10 years ago and we are working using the same medium to create another body of work. We are not sure if we will remain in black and white or add colour, so stay tuned for 2019!
Special thanks to both Ian and Erick for taking the time to share their story with us and hope you enjoyed reading the story. For more images visit Ian & Erick’s website or profile page on Production Paradise.