Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Adam Gasson and I’m an editorial and commercial photographer based in Bristol.
How did you first get into Photography?
I got into the business doing stuff for the student paper at university and I started getting the odd commission. By the time it came to graduate I was getting enough paid commissions that I could just about get a part time wage, and then I did part time work on until I was earning enough with photography, so yeah it was kind of a trickle effect where I was earning enough and I was like “Oh I could actually do this for a living” – because I was studying computer science at university which bored the life out of me and the thought of programming for 9 hours a day didn’t really excite me. I kind of started getting into it because I wanted to get into gigs for free and that’s how most music photographers get into music photography.
Would you be able to describe your work process?
It kind of depends on who I’m working for. So for editorial I have about half a dozen regular clients and depending on the client it’s normally a case of them sending over a rough brief and then we have a bit of back and forth about how we can get it to work, when we can get it to work so there’s not – I think editorially most designers have a pretty good idea of what they already want so it’s literally just a case of shooting it, turning it around and giving it back to them. Some clients I do more post-processing on as most of them I just give them the raw files to edit themselves which I’ve trusted them to do.
What advice can you give to other people about collaborating in the creative industry?
I think it’s essential, you end up collaborating on a lot of things without even realising it. It’s so rare that I’ll get a commission that isn’t coming from someone who’s had a creative input in it anyway. I have clients that we’re shooting regular features for so we have very little collaboration, but I think that’s because the collaboration happened 2 or 3 years ago.
You’ll sometimes work with people who have such a strong vision that just feels a lot more immediate because you’re both working at the same time and you both have very strong ideas. Or you might have someone come in and say “this is exactly how I want it to look” and then from my perspective it might just be the lighting is my sort of input into it. Even with personal work, it involves collaboration, you’re shooting that work with a viewer in mind so it still affects the way you’re going to shoot it.
What are some of your inspirations?
Photography wise Annie Leibovitz’ early portraiture work is still some of the best in the world. She has a book called American Music and it’s really interesting because she’s shot some of the people that you would really want to shoot. She has this great picture of Jon Bon Jovi laying out on a tanning bed and there’s no way anyone could pitch that as an idea to his management and they’d go “oh that’s a great idea”. But she’s intertwined that with photos of people in the deep South with people playing banjos on their porch. The problem with Annie Leibovitz is stuff like the Pirelli calendar and she’s done that because it’s work and she got paid half a million dollars for it, but her earlier work is still unbelievable.
Is there one or two particular projects that stand out to you (as you have a very expansive portfolio)?
There’s one project I did, I do a lot of stuff for a government agency called Innovate UK, at the beginning of the year we did a big project with 12 of the 24 winners. Personally, I was just really happy with the results but also meeting these guys who are all like late teens-mid twenties some of the things they were coming up with in their bedrooms is just unbelievable. It’s very enriching for the soul and it makes you question what your contribution to society is. There’s like five or six of the winners who were like that, and as its happening its turned into a business and they’re now making money from it. There’s this guy who’s created a filter to stop microplastics from leaving your clothes in the washing machine and getting washed into the ocean, and the filter regenerates and cleans itself, so instead of having to take your washing machine apart every three months, his filter stops that. It’s literally changed the world. You think to yourself, what have I done that’s benefited anyone?
Do you think your social media contributes to your success?
Personally, no. I don’t have enough followers, I’ve maybe had a commission or two from social media. Which isn’t to say social media isn’t important, I know other people who are the opposite who have thousands of followers and for them it’s a massive part of their business. I think it’s important in the sense that it allows you to connect with so many other creative people around the world. When I first got into photography it was still the early days of the internet when download speeds were so slow people just didn’t really share pictures now it can be really overwhelming but also really inspiring. I’m amazed how many people are sharing knowledge on social media that used to be not. Especially with studio work, people used to be quiet about everything. I’ve seen guys sharing stuff that previously you’d have had to assist someone to see or pay to see on a course. Between Instagram and Youtube, you can teach yourself pretty much anything.
Interview conducted by Morgan Cluley, Toni Hillier and Robert Bandy
Adam Gasson is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Bristol. He has an expansive portfolio covering a wide range of photographic subjects, including branding photography and shooting a lot of people in the music industry (some names that he’s worked with include Louis Walsh and Slash). As well as being a photographer, Adam is also a powerlifter in his spare time and documents his progress on his regularly updated Instagram page.