18 July 2020

Tom Blachford

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Tom Blachford is one of Australia’s most exciting fine art and architecture and interiors photographers. He has built a strong portfolio of Interiors, Architecture, Arial and Fine Art photography in his crisp, cinematic and evocative style.

His distinctive work is world-known and regularly graces the pages of Wallpaper, Architectural Digest, Aesthetica, Vogue Living, Vanity Fair, i-D, Monocle amongst many others.

Blachford recently sat down with Programa and shared his story and he how developed his unique style.

“At first glance, the dizzying images – drenched in vivid blue and purple hues – could be mistaken for photographic collages of metropolises from around the world, merged into an impossible dystopia”

Nihon Noir

Nihon Noir

As a fine art photographer, Blachford’s works have been exhibited in galleries from London to New York and his body of mind-bending work continues with his recent Centro Verso series shot entirely in Melbourne. Of particular note is his Midnight Modern series, a must-have piece for design enthusiasts.

"Shot entirely at night, bathed in moonlight, the homes, vintage cars, and foliage appear as they have been captured in another space and time," said the statement. "Recognising the locations may be easy, but it is more difficult to identity when the image was actually taken, be this day or night, in the past, present, or future” says Blachford.

Blachford’s meticulous approach has been recognised by many Australian design leaders and architects who choose Tom to capture their projects. He finds inspiration not only from the world of photography but also cinema, art and video games, which informs his signature aesthetic.



Blachford recently sat down with Programa and shared his story and he how developed his unique style.

How did your path in photography begin? Can you share the origins of your studio?

I left school to study marketing having no idea I was creative, or at least having “put down the pencil” since I was a kid. A year or so in I got a camera for my birthday and just fell in love with photography. Within 6 months I had deferred my studies to go and pursue photography which I fumbled my way through, assisting and learning what I could. By 2010 I was shooting professionally and by 2014 I began to develop my own art practice as well and quit assisting to make the jump to full time solo. Since then I have been exhibiting yearly and shooting new series each year.

What is your process like, when approaching a new project or client? What do you look for in a finished composition?

For fine art projects I am usually focusing on a style of photography and a place and time. My go-to is to shoot at night, so I have to plan whether I will use moonlight or natural light. I then research the architecture of the place and try to plan how to gain access and a rough schedule. From there it is very organic and just a lot of problem solving and trial and error. A final composition should be considered, well balanced and evocative.

Are there any key concepts or methods that you return to in your work?

A big theme in my fine art work is to create images that make it hard for the viewer to pin down when and where they were taken. Ideally my images exist in the past, present and future at once as I often photograph buildings 50-70 years old but in a style that is quite modern and even sometimes futuristic. Some of my series it is even hard to tell if they are shot during the day or at night.

What are the works from your portfolio that illustrate these ideas?

My midnight modern series and my Nihon Noir series.

Can you share any memorable lessons you have learned on the job?

I’m always learning. My greatest lessons have been to stay true to my impulses and instincts, to always be kind and thankful to people who help me along the way and to not give up on the things that I really want.

What has been your favourite shoot?

My favourite is the Nakagin Capsule Tower image. I fell in love with this building from the moment I saw it on the internet and I knew it had to be the star of the series. It was the first building I attempted to shoot on night one. I arrived at the site to find that there were just no possible views of it from the ground, surrounding buildings or surrounding walkways that were any good. It was incredibly frustrating. I noticed a crew of highway repairmen with a crane lift on the back of a truck repairing the expressway overhead that runs through Ginza and right past the capsule tower. I typed into my google translate “I have come all the way from Australia to photograph that building, can you please take me up in your lift?” and showed it to the worker on the ground. He declined immediately. I tried a couple of other angles but kept persisting with the workers.

Finally the crane lift operator saw my desperation and signalled to me that he would help. The whole crew of 15 stopped what they were doing, pulled up the hydraulic levels on the truck and asked me where I wanted it. We moved it back around 10m into the perfect position whilst they harnessed me up and gave me a hard hat and a few minutes later I was 20m in the air directly in front of the building with the perfect view. The basket was swinging wildly so in the end we parked it next to the expressway so I could grab it with one hand to steady us. We turned off all the motors and I shot like crazy praying for a sharp frame in amongst them. The resulting shot came out more perfect that I could imagine!

What is your proudest milestone as a photographer? And what’s on the horizon?

My solo show in New York of my Midnight Modern Series IV a couple of years ago was a huge achievement for me and felt like a mega dream come true.

During lockdown I’m hoping to get inspired with some movies I never made the time to watch and also to learn 3d modelling and rendering to help me bring to life projects and elements of architecture that don’t exist or are simply too hard to capture.

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