September 22, 2012

Gerhardt Thompson's Interview

Maybe in loving memory

Gerhardt, how did your passion begin ?

My passion for photography began with my first trip through Europe, it was the camera that captured the memories and then it became something more, a means to share the beauty through my own eyes and a chance to offer expression through the creativity of photography.

My passion for fine art nude photography began with my wife, Scarlet. This is a very passionate story within me, a feeling and inspiration driven by more than mere words could express. She was a model long before we met and she shared her achievements with me and I was intrigued by the possibilities. It seems so long ago now yet I know that together we have achieved something very unique.

"Perchance to Sleep"

"Southbound Odissey"
Art Model Dollybeck

Did you learn photography in a special school ?

 I am a Doctor of Optometry and a student of light. I studied light, its mathematics, its spectrum and its nuances and how to use it to help others. As time passed I learned how to capture it, harness it and use it to share a vision deep within my soul.

It is the light that inspires me most.

It is something I cannot ignore. It goes without saying that light is not enough, it requires a canvas to paint and the nude physique is the canvas I prefer to paint with the light.

It is hard to explain yet sometimes you can take in everything else that others are doing yet be removed from it. For me I am on an eternal quest, one that is most influenced by the light and the models and how they integrate with a single natural light source, the natural environment and the sun. There is no single photographer or artist that has inspired me.

"On a Tree by the Brook"
Art Model Scarlet

How long could you be far from your camera ?

Well that depends on how far I can travel as I happily leave it at home.

For me my camera is the instrument of my creativity.

I cannot be creative with the camera 24/7. I need time to think, time to dream, time to rest and time to process the visions I capture. The camera is merely the tool by which these elements come to fruition.

I spend a good deal of time ahead of any shoot thinking about what I want to accomplish and visualising everything, including the environment I will shoot in and the model I will be working with. Only then am I ready to go to work and create something special.

"River of Time"
Art Model Chela

Am I wrong if I believe you're an outdoors aficionado ?


Those who know my work will also know straight away that my passion is for the natural landscape of the Australian bush and beach.

Australia has so much to offer and the blending of the model in the landscape, or contrasted to it, allows for something extremely beautiful and very unique.

I will from time to time venture outside these boundaries to chase light however there is a drive that allows me to do so. At the end of the day there is a story to be told and in BW there is an even more interesting story, one which colour cannot bring to life. A black and white photo has an underlying story defined by the tonal range and it is hard for me to ignore so when I look at a location there are two influences… tones and textures. In simplicity lies complexity.

Art Models Brendan and Jodie

Art Model Scarlet

So I was right ! One point. And what about light, and colors ?

 My motto is “Single light source essential”.

I have said it before and I will say it again, how do we define ourselves as an artist if we do not endeavour to work towards something original…

It is difficult these days as so much has already been done.

The Australian landscape is so unique yet the light is even more unique I have travelled the world yet I have yet to find the drama that unfolds here every day. I know I can create light in a studio and well, so can everyone else…

Leave the studio and accept the mercy of the elements, forego all control except your own ability to control your camera…

Lets just say that I prefer not to control the light I can create but to control the natural light that can only be controlled through how I utilise it and capture it. I will say it is a delightfully spontaneous light source !

Some words about your models ?


"Swirl, Curves and things like"
Art Model Dollybeck

Regarding the models there are not enough words.

Without them there would be just a landscape, without their passion and expression there would be just a pretty face and for me the beauty of a woman is not in their physical attributes instead in what they have to share through self confidence, expression, understanding and trust.

Each of the models I work with share natural beauty, there is never any make up and I have to remind them not to do their nails, there is nothing artificial just body language and it is my job to look closely at feelings, light, mood and to integrate the sum of these parts.

These young ladies are bright and their abilities should never go unquestioned. The models work hard and give 200% of themselves. It is for this reason that I must do my very best for them each time I pick up my camera. They have my utmost respect !

Let's talk about hte part of improvisation in your work.

 My creation is one with order, one with harmony and balance.

This order is achieved through the balance of light and shadow, fluidity of the tones, the expression of the light and in particular the model integrated with the environment which is integral to the overall perspective. It is the interaction of the light and model with the landscape that influences the destiny of the end results.

Once your shooting is ended, how long does it take you to find the definitive print ?
I value a traditional perhaps even a vintage approach to the photographic presentation. To this regard my greatest attention is paid to the presentation of the tonal values in Black and White (BW). All other considerations including composition are made once I press the trigger and capture the image. Once the image is captured the adjustments are minimal.

All printing is also done to conventional standards and every print sent to a customer is on Museum quality Silver Gelatine then mounted and matted in archival acid free materials.

There is no comparison and if you want collectors to invest in a piece of art you need to spend the time and money to do it right, there is no other way your art will carry on from generation to generation. My art in many ways is my legacy.

"Fly away"

Have you a special project you're dreaming about ?

 There are no special projects just a desire or two.

At the moment I am enjoying the judging and imparting my understanding of photography with others. I think it would be exciting to expand my exposure in the arena.

The second vision is to establish in Australia a group that can meet on a casual basis and discuss fine art nude photography be it glamour, colour, erotic, classical, B&W it makes no difference.

I think we need a place to talk and socialize and this includes models as they are integral to the process. At the end of the day I am happy with what I have achieved and what lies in front of me and I hope that others will benefit by these achievements.

Have you scheduled your next exhibition ?

 Most of my exhibitions are by invitation so it is hard to say when the next one will be. In the meantime I will be focused on my upcoming books.

Is there a new book to come ?

 I currently have two books available. My first book The Sun Drenched Nude was released in February 2007, it is a book that for me speaks of my passion and of the beauty and harmony of the nude in the Australian landscape, this book is available worldwide.

The second is a limited edition book that is hand crafted and custom printed, it is a limited edition collector’s book.

In 2007 and 2008 I will be focused on shooting for a new book and to this regard have very carefully chosen nine talented and beautiful models. For the moment that is all I can share, however I have no doubt you will recognise many of the models that will grace each page of this very special book.

I am also working on another book that I am anticipating will be available in 2009 titled “Defining Masculinity”. This book presents a very exciting opportunity and challenge for me and I am still interviewing for models with several already chosen.

Art Model Scarlet

"Quiet Desperation"

What's for your next future ?

This is an interesting question and one whose answer will evolve from the current and pending projects. There is not a day that goes by that I am not looking for new projects, venues, collaborations, and possibilities as they are endless and simply by sharing my work and being involved I find that new opportunities will always present themselves. It is these opportunities that create new inspirations and by staying open and receptive to opportunity the possibilities are endless !

"Soul of a woman"

You're so right... A message to send before we leave ?

 Keep inspired and keep in touch with those around you. We all benefit from each other as support is a two way street, it is nice to receive however the greater reward is in giving and we learn more in what we share then in what we receive.

Each artist has a vision and we need to accept this vision and appreciate that it is different to our own, how boring it would be if we were all the same and thank goodness minds do not always think alike.

The beauty of art is what defines the vision and how grand it is to be able to share this personal and individual expression.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Gerhardt !


Trans-itions Photography said...

I think Gerhardt sets the standard for us. His work is just brilliant

Nick Owen

Mel Gama said...

Gerhardt is my master - everything that I know about light I learned with him. I will be an eternal fan!
Congrats for the interview!