Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Oliver-John Perry. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Oliver-John, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today How did you learn to do what you do? Knowing what you know now, what could you have done to speed up your learning process? What skills do you think were most essential? What obstacles stood in the way of learning more?
It must have been at the age of about 10 when my father gave me his used camera to try out. It was an analog Yashica and I got hold of a black and white Ilford film. I shot some portraits of my brother. These were the first ever steps I took in photography. I had great fun working with the camera, the lighting, the settings and I very much anticipated the day I got the developed film back. The results were amazing, I had never seen my brother quite the way the portraits of him showed him.
Later in school I took on a photography course, developed films myself and learned masking, layering – the whole editing process. Then came high school and I lost interest in photography, but never quite lost the passion for it. But it wasn’t until 30 years later that I got myself a DLSR and started shooting again. Wanting to learn everything hopefully at once, I was rushed to consume as much tutorials as possible. Kind of trying to make good for the time I lost during my teenage years. I managed in the end, but mastering my skills sort of felt a lot harder than it probably would have been some years earlier.
The key to mastering techniques and to maintain the love for the art for me has always been the passion with which I pursue photography. Same as with music, there is a strong urge in me to work with a camera. This maybe is my key skill, my way of ding things. The only obstacle I faced was my teenage self, which got distracted so easily.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
As I already told you, I got hold of my first camera when I was 10 (which is ages ago, I’m 49 today). It was that sound of the mirror flipping up to let the light through the lens and onto the film I immediately fell in love with. A love I can still feel today. Only, there’s no mirror anymore in the camera I use today.
Through the past years I found landscape to be one of my main genres I work with. It’s the tight bond I feel with nature and with the landscape when I’m shooting. In landscape photography you make use of the best lighting. Getting up ridiculously early for that perfect sunrise over the mountain ridge or freezing to death in complete solitude just to capture the Milky Way in perfect conditions are just two things that you need to get a passion for. But this has always been the easy part for me. The other genre I love working on is street and urban photography. I love to be able to describe the essence of a city with scenes from its daily life and people. I recently came back from a short trip to Tokyo and I totally fell in love with doing street photography there. Tokyo’s got that unique neon style look to night street shots, but also combines tradition. My zoom lens, me on street level out there in the middle of nighttime urban spots is another genre that I feel very passionate about.
Looking at my work and comparing it to others I’d describe my art pieces as being dreamy looking, moody and often dark. Why? I love to spend time at the location I’m working on, trying to grasp the essence of the whole setting. It’s this essence I want to capture and show others, hopeful to share the feeling and sensation I had at that particular moment. My work tends to be mellow, not too loud but very sensitive for feelings. My job is done when I could tickle emotions amongst the viewers.
This continues search for emotions in my work needs me to be empathic with all the objects or scenes I work with. And I think that it’s this empathy and sensitivity that makes my quite unique. I couldn’t work any different.
Alright – so here’s a fun one. What do you think about NFTs?
Back in July 2021 I got hooked on NFTs. I didn’t hear a lot about NFTs before that time, but as soon as I joined Twitter groups on the topic I found a whole new world waiting for us photographers.
Apart from being able to showcase your work to a much wider audience, NFTs enabled artists to exhibit and sell their art directly to collectors. Plus it also allowed a direkt interaction between artist and collectors (or potential buyers). For the first time in my life I had the opportunity at my hands to have my art seen globally.
NFTs for me is a 3-letter code for freedom of art and its creators, cutting out the middle men. Today I have sold art to collectors I could have never reached any other way.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
In my teenage years I completely distanced myself from photography. I didn’t really know at that time, but today I know the reason why. It was pretty soon in my youth that I found out I’m gay. I was 14 and in the eighties, in Austria, there was no such thing as other gay people in school or at least they wouldn’t have been open about it. I had a ton of guilt on my shoulders, fearing my parents or friends would find out. Trying to hide my emotions and attraction to other men I completely canceled my passion for photography. Photography has always been something very emotional for me. And it felt kind of strange to dive into that emotional level when there was a fight with my inner self raging at that time. There was no room for learning and accepting to be gay and the creative process of photography.
Later when I was 19 , I moved to London and found out quickly that being gay was an actual thing. I stood up for myself, for my emotions, and I lived my life and I enjoyed my love life to the fullest. It wasn’t until then that my passion for photography grew back and got stronger than ever before.
Today it’s being gay and being a photographer that are the center of being me. Both coexist perfectly, maybe adding a emotional touch to my work, but I’d never hide any of them anymore.
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