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Featured Artist: Ben Clement

3rd December 2017 Featured Artists

Ben Clement is a Melbourne based photo-artist who has created an incredible following through his photography. He has a very personable style that is recognisable in both his commercial and own personal work. He has worked for many years building relationships, learning and gaining experience leading him to work professionally as a photographer.

His latest personal project, Sister Cities - Pa Tuahine, is an exploration of work surrounding his home town Gisborne in NZ and it's connections with other sister cities around the world - in this instance Gisborne, VIC and Melbourne, VIC. Ben has printed large scale prints of these wonderful images on Museo Photo Rag and will be exhibiting at Junior Space from Thursday 7th December.

Ben looks to continue this project over the next few years and travel to the other sister cities around the world! You can follow this project and Ben's other photographic work via his Instagram and portfolio website.

Sister Cities - Pa Tuahine: Ben Clement
Junior Space, Fitzroy VIC
December 7th - December 30th
Opening Night: Thursday December 7th from 6pm.

Education and background:

Ben is self taught through life experience over time coupled with learning and observing through the world and other people. He is from Gisborne, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and has resided in Melbourne for the last 8 years working as a photo-artist  

Have you always had an interest in photography and how did you turn it into a profession?

For the most part, yes. My mother was/is a very amazing photographer (we put a book out together a few years ago actually). She always had a camera and had albums full of her work and travels. My Grandmother was also a really good artist so I was around creative outputs from an early age. I picked up a camera after moving away from painting and illustration and also realising I was better at taking photographs of my friends bands and friends skateboarding than actually playing in a band or skating.

I didn’t know being a photographer could be a profession, well definitely not shooting music or skateboarding anyway.

Over the years my passion and motivation grew and after deciding not to study and to move overseas a spark kicked in for me to push further and aim for more. A lot of it was risk taking, I had always come from more of an art practice foundation and knew nothing of the business/freelance side of things but I jumped in the deep end and went from there. The only way being a photographer as a profession was through really hard work, relationship building, connections to other people and a hunger to learn and grow. Which is still how it is today and that is really exciting

How has your photography style evolved over the years?

Over the years my interests and my eye have refined, I always believe and say that my style is based off personality + experience & learning over years. Without all I have learnt and experienced I wouldn’t make photographs the way I do. Although I have learnt a lot of new technical things, most of how my style has evolved is due to searching for stories, connections and looking to observe things differently.

Where do you look to for your creative inspiration?

Literally everywhere, mostly through connections with other people whether by listening, having conversations and or reading and watching. Which then goes hand in hand with natural observation and things I am interested in.

You shoot a mixture of digital and film. What cameras do you use and how do you decide which format to shoot with?

Currently: Ricoh GR ii, Canon 5DSR, Fujifilm GA645 and Olympus MJUii - So all spectrums. It’s always situational and scenario dependent. A certain camera or format suits different moments and places so based on my personality and how I work in various scenarios I’ll work with a different camera. 

What do you feel is your biggest achievement to date?

This is really subjective as just being able to make photographs and work on a range of projects everyday is an achievement enough as it is. Being able to work alongside friends who you admire and enjoy working with is pretty amazing too.

You are exhibiting a personal project ‘Sister Cities – Pa Tuahine’ at Junior Space in December. Tell us a bit about this project and how it came to be.

This new body of work is an exploration of the connection that Gisborne, Tairawhiti (New Zealand) has to its Sister Cities across the globe. This initial iteration of an ongoing series will focus on the landscape, environment, culture and community of three cities; Gisborne, Tairawhiti, Gisborne, Victoria and Melbourne, Victoria. The photographs presented will explore and contrast the cities in an attempt to convey their similarities  and differences, strengthening the audience's awareness of these connections, their meaningfulness and importance. The way it came to be was through my grandparents who for a number of years were presidents of Sister Cities Gisborne, Tairawhiti and would travel to the various connection cities and work on educational projects, swap artworks and build relationships between the connecting places. I was subject to a wider world while remaining stationary by hearing and seeing what they did in this world of Sister Cities. The idea sparked a couple of years ago as I wanted to uplift my hometown to the rest of the world and create awareness not only to the people of my home area about the possibilities of being connected globally but also insight further thinking for other people about what connection means to various places.

How did you find getting started with printing at Image Science?

I’ve used Image Science for the last 7 years and have always used them as a go to due to the proficiency in color reproduction and knowledge in printing styles.

What's next?

This project will continue for an unknown amount of time and the plan is to travel to all of the places which have sister connections to my hometown to progress this body of work.