by Ryan Schembri Published 01/04/2008
In writing this article I've had time to reflect on many things that have happened in my relatively short career. And realised how blessed I have been to have seen what I have seen, met who I have met and experienced what I have experienced. In this article I will take you through my life growing up in the family business, right through to where I see myself in the future.
Being the son of a photographer, growing up seeing what my father had put into his career in order to support our life-style, I had always thought how I would never end up working for him, let alone him now working for me!
As a child growing up in Australia, my passion was sport, and plenty of it. I had always dreamt of first playing cricket for Australia and one day playing in an ashes white-wash! Then to football, and how one day I was going to be the striker for Manchester United! Then to long-distance running and how I was one day going to be the next Sebastian Coe! It wasn't until one day I asked Dad if I could see what he did on the weekend. Sure he said! So it was at that point, at the age of 12, my career was born!
My first experience at a wedding, I have to say, for me wasn't a pleasant one. We started at 9am, and by the time Dad was finished with the reception and night shots, waking me up from a very comfortable couch in the foyer of the hotel, it was nearly 3am! I thought this was crazy! Why would Dad work for all these hours and it didn't seem like he was having that much fun! It wasn't until a few weddings later when Dad had handed me a camera and said, 'Let's see what you can see' that I saw how much fun he was having. It was from that point I no longer saw photography as something that Dad paid the bills with, but a passion for capturing, creating and seeing beautiful images!
Throughout high school, I would walk to the studio after class had finished and spend time with Dad who had just bought a new computer and Photoshop 2.0. I would go to the studio and spend a couple of hours just before football practice, playing in Photoshop until my role was upgraded to scanning in the negatives from the previous weekend's wedding! (Wow how much fun was that!) At the age of 16, I had told my parents that I wanted to leave school and work for Dad full time and with a little persuasion, they let me do it!It was at this time Dad had taken one of the biggest leaps in his career and decided that the digital era was coming, and coming fast it was! We had just purchased our first DSLRs (Nikon D1) and without question I went to task on mastering how to get the best out of this new technology.
Soon after this it was time to develop a set of systems for the studio. This was a very exciting time for all of us, but with no real history or practice methods from the past to guide us, we spent a lot of long days and even longer, later nights together sorting out workflows, developing a new way of shooting and trying out loads of new software the same time still enjoy the art of what I do.
Some say that I am lucky! To that I say I don't believe in luck! Fortunate? Yes! I have a mentor, a well-respected photographer but most importantly a father all in one, and I have been guided by the best in all aspects of what I do. All of this, however, is never taken for granted and it is through a lot of hard work, being absorbent as a sponge and foresight for my future that I can proudly say that I have emerged from my father's shadow and become Ryan Schembri
Many influences are what we are made up of, and through these many influences we are all trying to create the best blend of our own influences for what we believe to be us! It is through the same process many of the top wedding photographers in the world have become who they are today. In this modern and ever-changing world it is very easy to gain inspiration from many of the greats, whether it is through looking at a lot of work on websites, sitting through one of their DVD's, attending a seminar to listen to them speak, or going and introducing yourself and meeting them in real life!
Personally there are so many people that I have modelled from to get the best mix, in fact to many to mention! No one will ever perfect anything; there will ALWAYS be room for improvement. The biggest tip I can give is to never create boundaries for yourself or for your shooting style and approach! Keep learning, keep looking and keep refining!
Whether it is recognising the precision in a Ghionis image or the flare in which Yervant finishes his work or connecting your self with your subjects and the image like a Bussnik does to one of his masterpieces. Each day there is more & more out there to inspire us. It is wether we act on that inspiration, refining what we do and trying to get closer to that perfect image that makes all the difference in our personal satisfaction within our work!
Passion is one of those things that is spoken about a lot in photography. I think that as photographers we wouldn't really do this job without a lot of it! My passion comes a few different places...
The passion of creating a beautiful image, though I have nothing against beautiful photojournalistic work, my passion lye's behind finding a that beautiful mix of light, background and story in an image. This is what drives me at very wedding to keep fresh with my work and to not just repeat what I did last weekend!
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