In its initial incarnation, Jay Hynes’ series ‘I saw a …’ stripped down the lighting and constructed concepts of his successful commercial career to simply observe his surroundings while travelling in Rome three years ago.
The second instalment, opening at SUNTUDIOS Melbourne Skylight Gallery on February 7, explores the people and landscapes across four cities in Europe; Amsterdam, Germany, Portugal and Spain. During his travels Jay Hynes discovered a beautiful simplicity in walking the streets and observing; exploring and experiencing the city, the people and the light. We caught up with Jay to learn about his celebration of symmetry, humour and humanity.
This is a departure from your other series, which are thematic, directed portraits. Did ‘I saw a …’ provide a different type of outlet for your creativity?
Yes for sure. It's definitely less pressure as I'm trying to capture something that's gone in a split second. I suppose it's a different type of adrenaline rush as you only get one chance to capture the moment. In my portraits series, there's a lot more riding on it because I'm showing everyone an idea as a finished concept. There's pressure to have a worthy idea first, then location and talent searching and then bringing it to life with lighting.
This is your second instalment of the series. What did you learn from the first that you brought in, or did anything you learned evolve the way you worked in the second?
If anything the first series taught me to be a little more patient when I see a shot. Subconsciously I probably put more thought into how these shots would fit together as a series. As a result I think this series is more centred around light.
Is ‘turning up’ a different mindset to simply ‘being there’? Is it about physically being there or a certain mindset with a camera?
Turning up and being there are a similar mindset to me. Personally it's about getting out of my comfort zone in Melbourne and traveling to different parts of the world and being present the whole way. Shooting this type of series can be nerve racking at times but I always say to myself, I'll go out and shoot and in 2 hours time I might come back with something amazing. I also might come back with nothing but just giving myself that chance motivates me to go for it.
Has your background in art direction contributed to your photography practice?
Coming from an art direction background has definitely contributed to the way I shoot. Being an art director really trained my eye. I had a mentor in my first job as a junior art director at George Patts and his teachings still run through my head every time I shoot. I like things to be quite graphic and I often obsess over composition and the way an image fits in the frame. In my commercial work it's been invaluable. Having been on the other side I find I can collaborate with creatives really easily and I have a greater appreciation of all the pressures that go into a shoot from all sides.
Congratulations also on your image that’s a finalist in the 2019 National Portrait Prize in Canberra. Can you tell us a little about your image that will be hung?
Thank you, I'm very happy to be a finalist. The image is from a series I'm currently shooting titled, Lost. It's a series on Italian widows and their mourning dress. My grandfather was Italian and when he passed away I can still remember my grandmother dressing in black and it's always stuck with me. I've had the thought for a few years now and I finally started shooting it last year. It's a slow process but it's been really rewarding. Hopefully it will launch later this year.
Opening Night: 6pm - 9.30pm, 7 February 2019
SUNSTUDIOS Melbourne, 95 Buckhurst St, South Melbourne.
For information phone +61 3 8695 9700. All images below shot by Jay Hynes.