About Gary Austin

Gary Austin

My name is Gary Austin and I am an award-winning street & documentary photographer based in Derbyshire UK. I have had a varied career over 27 years working as a freelance photographer which has ranged from documentary, photojournalism and street photography to commissioned work and personal art projects. I’m now branching out into more humanitarian and cultural photography which is boiled down to photographing people on location and is culturally, socially or politically significant!

My style and approach is simple: to uncover that which is authentic and important, and to share it with the readers in a compelling manner . The photographs of people I produce are up-close and personal, full of drama, spontaneity and natural raw emotion which could be summed up as “candid intimacy”.

While my greatest talents are the ability to mix with any class or culture of people and to get nervous subjects to relax in front of my camera. I am also excellent at solving visual problems and working in difficult or hazardous conditions and meeting deadlines.

The driving force to my work is exploring culture, food, traditions and the human condition by photographing real people on the streets, at home or at work. With my professional background in photojournalism and a degree in art photography, my photographic voice has evolved as a blend of traditional documentary and portrait photography, an approach which allows for the subjective interpretation of the story as an artist.

I’m married to a lovely and talented artist Alison and we have three sons ranging from age 22 to 26

Enough of that… but if you want to know more ask!

Gary austin Documentary Photographer

Reportage Photography

I work independently, finding my own visual topics, producing a long form visual story with photographs or mixed media, on topics that are of socially or politically important. I also accept commissions and work with Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) Charities and publications when there is a shared interest on a project, region or issue needing reportage.

I work ethically and remain aware of the conundrum of showing the truth and that of authorship to events which I document. The photographs I make are often my first experiential impressions and I edit as close as possible to the experience and original scene as the recall of my mental memory of the image allows.

The result of my work is a candid intimacy, full of drama, spontaneity and natural raw emotion which is authentic and shows the importance to the reader.

Documentary Photography

Lighting from a small flash is a technique that I sometimes use in my documentary photography, as a way of highlighting the importance of the subject and separating them from distracting or less important details while giving depth to the image or showing texture and detail. The renaissance masters lit their portraits with artificial light and painted in the effect of Chiaroscuro, (which means light-dark) a technique referring to the exaggeration of light and dark contrast.

Joseph Wright of Derby was such a painter using this effect while depicting the age of enlightenment and an international artist whose work I admire. He was the first professional painter to record and express the industrial revolution and the people behind them, paintings that are not just art, but show important history of that time. Joseph Wright also painted a scene called the “Blacksmiths Yard” set in a ruined church which is alleged to have been in the village I live in, this was one reason that prompted me to start my documentary project on the village, that, and my family history connected to it.

Street Photography

Unlike a lot of street photographers I use flash on the subjects I am photographing, I am often very close (4 feet or under) to the subject and use a wide angle lens, neither do I ask permission, as this would change the response from the subject, and result in socially contrived stances and poses! This may seem very invasive on a personal level, but at least they know they have been photographed, which I think is ethically better than making candid photographs of the subject of which they know nothing about and have no choice in the making.

Often they ask why, and conversation starts, I get to meet people, we chat, they have a laugh and go about their day with a smile on their face and they feel a bit more special! I am not into the funny photo “one liners” or “gag’s” there are plenty of humour websites out there that degrade people and I have more respect for my subjects (and myself) To me street photography is a serious undertaking and needs to reflect the mood on the streets.

The light from the flash is also me adding to the scene or subject as a means of creating, not just recording what is in front of my lens. I angle the light to try and suit the subject and allow for the light to drop away from the background, leaving just the subject in the spotlight as it where. With this in mind I have to spot my subject further up the street, I covet the camera and my intentions by walking behind other people so I am not seen. I slow or speed up my pace to get them in front of a suitable background. I have to think where the flash needs to be in relation to the subject (I aim for Rembrandt lighting).

Some times they may be looking the wrong way at the moment our paths intersect and I have to make a noise or say hello to get them to look in my direction. Simply put it’s hunting for the picture I want, yet it is done with the greatest respect to who they are! I photograph with the attitude of “all photographs are self portraits,” meaning that the people I select resonate with me on a personal level, from a person I know, an emotion or a situation I have been in; they are like me in some way! I don’t go gunning for everyone on the street like some street photographers do.

I don’t photograph people to make them look bad or to make fun of them, I won’t photograph people who are obviously worse for wear over drink or those that are homeless, I am not after victimising – victims of our don’t care-less society!


Foundry Gallery, London 2007 Group Exhibition on Protest that toured the UK

Anxiety of influence, Derby UK 2010 (Received the Format Award 2011)

Format International Photography Festival 2011 (click here to view on line version)

Magnum Street Photography Workshop Projection and print exhibition during the Format Festival 2011 (led by Bruce Gilden and Magnum)


Top Documentary Photography Sites Top 20 sites .com

80 Google+ Photographers users need to follow – Jarek Klimek, Photo Extract Photography Magazine

Top 104 Amazing Photographers to circle on Google+ – WonderHowTo.com

100+ Top Photographers on Google+ That you should follow – RecomendedUserers.com

51 of the Best Photographers on Google+ – PlusHeadlines.com

Top 500 most followed people on Google+ SocialStatistics.com

The Most Followed 550 Photographers on Google+ Charles Lupica 14 June 2012

Follow me on Google+


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