(More than) 10 Questions: CCP Lecturer Chris Holmes

This week’s chapter in the history of the CCP is a more recent alumnus who has also started lecturing here, and that is Chris Holmes. Chris commenced his studies here in 2012 and graduated with his Diploma four years later when he commenced his teaching position.

Chris was a very popular and helpful student with his peers, and now as a lecturer, his cheeky and self-deprecating humour (which I totally get and love) had him lovingly labelled as “sassy and uncooperative” by one student last term.

When he’s here at the CCP, Aaron and I both love to tease him mercilessly and as a great sport, Chris gives as good as he gets, adding to the “back room banter” in our staff refuge which is pretty much what goes on between lectures when they’re not teaching classes.

What I really enjoy about the mix of lecturers at the CCP, is the diversity of skills, personalities and teaching styles each person brings to the task at hand and as such, Chris is no different. He has settled in very nicely with a range of camera, digital imaging and soon to be studio subjects.

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He’s proven to be a very popular lecturer with the students as well thereby retaining the idiom he established when he first studied here. I also enjoy the creative bent Chris brings to his personal and professional work with “Scenes from a Shower” being his latest artistic endeavour and I think he very aptly summed up his approach to this fun series of portraits when he stated:

What I want you to find in this work is a unique reflection of the person, an image that tells us a story without contriving the final look. Most of my portrait work is studio lit, retouched

and enhanced for commercial use. This series is the antithesis of my usual approach and presents raw, desaturated, warts-and-all images.
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Chris Holmes, I salute you, you are another valuable addition to the CCP crew and I’m very pleased you decided to tolerate me a bit more and become a part of the crew… over to you my friend.

Photograph by sam oster :: silvertrace

Photograph by sam oster :: silvertrace

MORE THAN 10 QUESTIONS: Chris Holmes (Creolumen Photography)

What first interested you, or made you fall in love with, photography?

As a young’un, I was one of those annoying pull-everything-apart children, always interested in how and why things worked the way they do. Somehow, I got my hands on a camera to pull apart, put back together.  Well, I didn’t know how to put it back together (like many of our household appliances) but this ignited my interest with the camera, the workings, the technical mechanics and lastly the creative allure.

Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

To be honest, at the time, it was probably a better option than joining a camera club, I think I recognised the need to learn some technical proficiency before I mastered the art of it. Google ranking put the CCP first, and having worked in Vocational Education myself, I recognised the value of this place.

Are you making personal work?

Tough question… yes and no. Mostly my work is paid (commercial work). But, I do get opportunities to involve myself in a project here and there and shoot some work just for me. My last commercial job ended up being poorly paid but highly rewarding as far as creativity, so that ended up as personal work! Early this year, I finished shooting a personal portrait series (Scenes from A Shower) which was amazingly creative and super fun.

What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

From studying, I now teach at the CCP. I also have my own photographic business ‘Creolumen Photography’ and work at Cog Creative Studio (Norwood) with other amazing creatives. I also work in Quality Management (the least connected skill to photography) so I also help out the CCP where I can to support their relentless need for compliance management.

How has photography changed since you commenced your studies?

Well, I’m new gen photography 101 – so I guess things are settling a bit with all this evolution from film to digital. I teach the digital subjects, so I’m a techno nerd that enjoys days tucked away, editing in the dark on a computer. I did study film and darkroom and they still resonate as a beautiful art, but I guess for the most of us, we’re all developing new digital skills and competencies. They say, necessity is the mother of invention – I think this applies here!

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How have you changed since you were a student?

Yes, my hair is much whiter and I devote more time to complaining like an old person! But seriously, I’ve developed my own sense of confidence in photography. I’m not as intimidated by the camera, the technology or the client! I’ve become more curious to technological changes and commit to always developing skills. These are new curiosities I have developed since study. 

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work – and why?

I always ask my students this question (Camera 1 – shameless plug). It’s important to find your photographic heroes and learn from their style and approach. Past photographers of inspiration would be Olive Cotton, Imogen Cunningham, Weegee and Margaret Bourke-White – all pioneering photographers that thought outside the box that inspired me to be more creative with my style.

Note: just look at her amazing nerves-of-steel to shoot this: Margaret Bourke-White, female pioneer, braver (with less vertigo) than I’d ever be.

Note: just look at her amazing nerves-of-steel to shoot this: Margaret Bourke-White, female pioneer, braver (with less vertigo) than I’d ever be.

Present would include Sam Oster – her highly developed technical ability juxtaposed with an incredible sense of artistic vision, she inspires me want to shoot and treat clients just like her. Mark Spaven, for you I have great respect for teaching me the technical art of the studio – your skills and excellent teaching ability gave me the confidence I have to develop my love for studio photography and spark my ongoing love for commercial work.

Who are the people who have shaped your work and career and why?

As above, the aforementioned photographers and also every other person who I’ve worked with, studied or collaborated with. Every time I’m around somebody, I learn from them. We should never be so arrogant or ego driven to discount the value and opportunity every person brings to you, good or bad.

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Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

The competitive nature of the industry! Getting consistent work is hard, the long hours, the dedication needed to accommodate clients and their expectations and unseen rewards when the client loves what you do.

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Listen to others. Never be too eager to ‘showcase’ your skills, never be afraid to ask questions and absorb the information and perspective of others. Be ready to assist, be helpful and respectful and turn your damn phones off!

Light Painting and digital retouch is a keen combination of skills often experimented with.

Light Painting and digital retouch is a keen combination of skills often experimented with.

Any funny anecdotes from your experience in the industry?

Seriously! I spent two years shooting ‘Scenes From A Shower’. That was always going to result in some stories, nothing too much happened, but the really interesting stories I can’t really disclose here – it wouldn’t be respectful.

Apart from forgetting equipment, calling your clients the wrong name and turning up to jobs on the wrong day and time, nothing too much!

What are your passions outside of photography?

I work nearly full time in Quality Management, I run my own photographic business and I teach. Outside of photography… sleeping? Gin drinking? Something more noble, I volunteer my services to the RSPCA, that I love! I’d like to be a professional cat and dog cuddler (is that even a job?). I have great devotion to my two rescue-cats from the RSPCA.

Photographing horses for the RSPCA is always a great experience, this is the one that didn't bite!

Photographing horses for the RSPCA is always a great experience, this is the one that didn't bite!