As a Melbourne based photographer, I have been shooting musicians within the Australian Hip-Hop scene for the past two years. My journey with shooting portraits of Hip-Hop artists started mid-2012, but the actual idea for RISE came up during a shoot with Mantra and Grey Ghost after they suggested I compile my body of work into a book; a book that would not just focus on Melbourne Hip-Hop artists, but actually extend to acts throughout the country.
At first I was overwhelmed at the prospect of how challenging the job would be, but later decided the personal satisfaction of giving back to the Hip-Hop community was definitely worth the time and effort.
The photo shoots themselves led me on a journey of artistic growth, having to think outside the box and get creative with many difficult encounters along the way. The medium of photography relies on so many variables, mostly unpredictable and uncontrollable. From arriving at ‘less than desirable’ locations, to capturing incredible images in less than ten minutes, I learnt very quickly that a perfect shoot is something dreams are made of! The luxury of having an assistant or perfect lighting was a rarity, so I trained myself to be as resourceful as possible; combining natural light and being able to identify cool textures to use as backdrops on location. Somewhere along the way, I began to really enjoy the challenges of environmental portraiture.
Regardless of the demanding and sometimes precarious situations I have found myself in throughout the making of RISE, my main focus has always been connecting with the artist. The importance of making them feel relaxed is something I strongly believe in. Getting to know each person I photographed on a personal level not only gives the viewer an honest and truthful insight into the subject, but has also offered me the opportunity to form true friendships with many of the artists I have photographed.
I chose to title the book RISE to convey what I perceive to be a surge in popularity and recognition for Australian Hip-Hop, and to reiterate the many positive and multidimensional aspects of a genre of music that I am truly passionate about. Hip-Hop music knows no boundaries; it has, and will continue to incorporate itself into my life. This is something I am sincerely grateful for.
A major challenge I faced came after deciding to self-publish RISE. Knowing it would be an incredibly expensive process, I launched a Pozible campaign to raise the funds needed. Thanks to the overwhelming support I received for the campaign, I raised the necessary funds for the design, production and printing of the book.
So now, two years later, it is an honour to be releasing the first ever photobook documenting Australian Hip-Hop.
I hope you enjoy this photographic insight into my personal journey within the Australian Hip-Hop scene.