snapshotsInsights from Jon Love
A life-changing moment during A Day in the Life: Australia
I was asked if I wanted to help out on taking the photo of all the photographers who worked on the project. It was such an eye-opening thing. They had so many people who were great photo-journalists at the time. It was the sort of thing where I was thinking, "Boy, these people actually do this for a living. I could do that." Of course, I had no idea how. It seemed like kind of a miraculous thing. Anyway, we were doing a shot of all these photographers on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. Greg Heisler had an 8x10 camera on the back of a flat-bed truck. I didn't do that much. I just helped him load film. In those days I didn't even know how to work an 8x10 camera. It was just one of those God-given moments, really. We went back and talked with him that evening, and he said, "You know, you should move to New York and become an assistant. That's the way you learn." Six months later my wife and I sold everything, and we moved to New York.
Approach to shooting portraits
I really enjoy shooting portraits, but, at the same time, I find they are still the hardest thing to do. I think, because I've done so many of them at this point, the best thing I've found is to be really relaxed yourself for a start-off, and not be too rushed or hasty about it. I've done high-profile ones from Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch to many CEOs for various companies in various situations, and, generally, I find that if I am relaxed, the subject will be as well. These days with digital, you don't have to shoot as much, so it all goes quicker anyway. We used to shoot a lot more film in the days when it was much more difficult to make changes afterwards, and it used to take so much more time.
More on portrait photography…
There's something about that whole thing of seeing someone through the lens, and seeing different things happen. I can see that change a lot more now. There's a lot more I see happening with people's faces, their attitudes, their inner self, if I can use that phrase. There are certain moments when you just know that something feels right. I still really enjoy that process.
The client's role
I've recently worked with some art directors who have been incredibly helpful. It really is a collaborative process. Something will come up, and we'll work on it together, and you just know that working on it together brings about a much better result. That said, I've worked on jobs where I just have to go by myself and shoot something--a job in New Zealand or China--and I'm given the basic guidelines. I'm quite happy to go and do that by myself, as well. I always try to come up with at least two situations or approaches to a shot. I would never do less than that.
What are you most proud of in your work?
Over the years, I have done quite a bit of work with smaller, non-profit agencies. It's rewarding in the sense that it contributes to someone else's well-being. I did quite a few jobs for World Vision in Africa through the nineties. It's such an eye-opening experience to go to a lot of those places in Africa and Asia. This was primarily for child sponsorship, and having seen a lot of those projects, and the fact that they do bring about some positive results, you do become a bit of a spokesperson for them. I have seen the long-term effects of starvation, and, when you see it, you say to yourself, "This shouldn't be happening. This just shouldn't be happening, especially with the young kids."
How would your clients describe you?
I would like to think that they'd say I was good to work with, easy-going, but still very focused--that I was able to work through any situation and come up with a good result. When situations get difficult, you've got to be able to do that.
Love Is All You Need
When Jon Love was in his mid-twenties, he led a life most of us only dream about. He and his fellow surfing buddies traveled the world in search of the perfect wave. What separated Love, born near the beach in southern Australia and as laid-back as they come, from his 'mates was that wherever they went--Hawaii, California, Spain, and Morocco--he always had a camera with him and was constantly taking pictures when he wasn't trying to hang ten. After returning to Oz, Jon found himself in Sydney working all kinds of freelance jobs. One day, he was hired to be among a group of assistants to legendary Time-Life photographer Greg Heisler, who was leading the A Day in the Life: Australia photo project. Heisler was so impressed by Love's work habits and skill that he suggested to Jon that if he really wanted to learn photography, he should come to New York. Love heeded that advice, and in 1981 he and his wife left Oz for the Big Apple launching a remarkable career that thrives to this day. Five years later, Love and family returned home to Australia, and he began to take his place as one of the foremost commercial photographers in the Oceanic region. These days the father of two boys lives and works in Sydney, and still travels the world with a camera in hand. His recent work includes shoots for Singapore Airlines, Westpac Bank, Honeywell and TXU. A true pro's pro, he's as easy-going as the surfer who searched for the perfect wave a quarter-century ago, only now he serves in the never-ending quest for the perfect shot. Perhaps, together, you and Jon Love can find it.