We met Dan over lunch. (Well, technically Maker's Mgmt marketing lady Susan introduced us to his work during our lunch break.) Photographer and film maker Daniel Bushaway's photos tell stories of questions we had never thought to ask, such as 'where does tap water actually come from?'. Read on to find out the reason behind the question, how water would have also played a massive role in his alternative career path and what sustainability has got to do with it all. Plus, for the keen: Dan shares what equipment he uses and gives some handy tips for those wanting to get into photography!
Francos Bandits #6
How did you get into photography - what were the first objects/landscapes/people you took pictures of?
When I was in my teens my granddad loaned me his Olympus Trip 35mm camera to take on a 6-month expedition to the Rocky Mountains in Canada. I was completely awestruck by the mountains and the climbers that I was shooting. When I first got into photography the majority of my work was landscape and this journey through The Rockies was really the impetus for my continuing deep appreciation of nature. Then in my first year at art school in London, I started to take photography seriously but the obsession started early. I went through a big phase when I just shot garbage and rubbish bins.
What would you have become if you hadn’t chosen to be a photographer and filmmaker?
I think I would have liked to sail yachts around the world or been a Master Scuba Diver.
Presa De Rules #2
Your ongoing series ‘Control’ follows the journey of water from tap to source, can you tell us how the idea of 'Control' came about?
The inspirations for ‘Control’ were two simultaneous moments of climate change, resulting in a drought in Melbourne (my hometown) and a drought in Andalucia in Spain (where I grew up). There was an ambiguous billboard in Richmond, Melbourne, telling me that reservoirs were at their lowest capacity in Victoria. That struck a chord and it stayed with me when shooting ‘Control’. I spent the majority of my teens and 20’s in London where the concept of water conversation didn’t really exist. This billboard was strange and my curiosity was piqued. That’s how the ‘Control’ project started.
Through your work you want to challenge the viewer to examine their relationship with the commodities we use on a daily basis, where did this fascination come from?
I have always had a fascination for how things work, from the way a radio transistor is designed and built, through to ideas of large-scale manufacturing, industry and its intersection with our landscape. I’ve always liked to pick things apart and put them back together and that has always been a bit of an obsession which has definitely crossed over into my work (in design) and certainly into my photographic work too.
There is also a sustainability element to understanding what is involved in the process of creating or accessing these daily commodities, like how water gets to your tap, or paper pulp becomes a fine art book or toilet paper.
Lake Vinuela Service Tower
How does format come into play? ‘Control’ is shot on a 4x5 large-format camera - do you use your tools to add another narrative layer to your imagery?
There is control in the equipment I choose to shoot with and there is also control in technique when shooting on large format. The format by way of size, speed, weight, cost of consumables always dictates a level of discipline and by extension, I hope that creates another interplay and layer within the images. Control is not only the subject matter of the project it’s also the lens and technique through which I explore the work.
Your work takes you across the globe - where would you like to travel next, and what is on your bucket list to shoot?
I would love to trek through Yosemite Park in North America and travel to the archipelago of St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides. My work is not really defined by destinations or locations so my bucket list is pretty loose and undefined I am not really sure where I will next be beyond my next body of work or project.
It’s often the people I meet whilst shooting that inspire and point me in the next direction. Particularly whilst travelling, when I’m in a city and shoot on large format, people are really curious about what I’m doing and the equipment I use and are very generous with a lead or a contact for a location to shoot.
Francos Bandits #08
Francos Bandits #16
Are you an impulsive shooter or does it take you 400 shots to get that perfect composition?
Neither! Generally, my work is disciplined and restrictive. I shoot only what I need for a body of work or project, I rarely shoot spontaneously and when I do I’ll always miss the decisive moment.
I guess, shooting on film, the cost of it as well as the process to set up and take a shot, means I have to be precise with every shot. I also don’t mess around with my images much in post. I was taught before the digital age of photography and aim to capture what I need in camera or within the processing, scanning and printing of my work, I still work as if I lived in this age.
What I want to communicate with my work rarely demands a momentary point of view but more an overarching narrative and study over time. Much of my work involves a level of planning before I commence shooting. I’ll unpack this a bit further, many of my ideas and projects require access to private property, therefore I don’t generally have the luxury of unlimited location access. I often shoot at locations that requires an OHS officer to chaperone me.
I occasionally shoot on a Mamiya 7.
Do you have any tips for aspiring (hobby) photographers on how to take their style to the next level? It seems like your series have a very strong underlying storyline - is that the secret to success?
I remember my art school tutor saying to me, you should look at Andreas Gursky’s work, so I traveled to Tate Britain to see his work, that became my frighteningly high benchmark. From this moment The Dusseldorf School of Photography became an obsession of mine and still is to this day, i can’t really move past this point. Perhaps that’s my point, foremost you need to be obsessively driven. I don’t think you can fast track or force your practise or career, you should aim to be prolific like Picasso and innovative like Islamabad Kingdom Brunel (English 19th Century civil engineer), it’s important to focus and hone your skills and work and not get caught in the moment of immediacy. Shoot for yourself, not for anyone else and never give up.
What kind of music do you listen to when you select and edit your images? Any hot tips we have to add to our playlists?
I can give you some personal favourites of mine, whether they are hot tips is for you to decide and probably has little to do with my work.
Phil France - The Swimmer, Jaga Jazzist - Starfire, Steve Hauschildt - Strands, Einstürzende Neubauten - Perpetuum Mobile, anything baroque and medieval, any Montserrat Figueras - Alonso Mudarra combo is to die for. I am listening to Aesop Rock whilst writing this, ‘Hey Kirby what you doin’ Kirby’.
Francos Bandits #01
And for the nosy ones - Dan listed his frequently used equipment.
Chamonix 4x5 large format camera
Toyo Field 45 large format camera
Sekonic L-758 Cine Digitalmaster light meter
Arca Swiss tripod heads
Stepladder - for those shots over 2.5 meters high
Howtek D4000 drum scanner
Jobo semi automatic film processor
Kodak Portra 400 negative film
Check out Daniel's work here.