Gareth Cooke

Published 1/1/0001

Based out of a studio in Albany with his partner, Gareth is a Commercial photographer who shoots for national and international companies. Before starting Subzero images Gareth was a professional sailor, now working as a full time Photographer, he loves his job and spending time with his family.

Where are you based?
My partner and I have a studio (available for hire) in the commercial area of Albany in Auckland.

When did you first pick up a camera and what was it?
I was a bit of a late starter and didn't really pick up a camera until my early twenties. I was writing for some magazines and needed to take some photos to accompany the stories. After a while I found taking the photos way more fun than writing the stories. My first camera was a Canon EOS 5 that I brought off a pro photographer mate, Sean McCabe (Cheers Sooty!) I still have that camera tucked away somewhere.

Tell us a little about your style of photography.
I think in commercial photography the style is often dictated by the brief from the client, at the end of the day the images you provide need to serve a commercial purpose for the client. But, in saying that I'm always looking for something unexpected that is not necessarily in the brief, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just ticking boxes, not being creative and thinking outside of the box.
What gear do you use?
I've always used Canon bodies and lenses. My lenses range from the 16-35 F2.8 right up to the 500mm F4. Currently I am running a mix of 5D MII and MIII and I find them to be incredibly reliable workhorses.

If you had to choose only one lens, what would it be and why, and is there a piece of your kit you wish you hadn't spent money on?
If I had to chose one lens it would be my Canon 70-200 F2.8. I find this a really versatile lens, both in the studio and in the field. I am not really a gear junkie so any equipment purchases I make are generally pretty well thought through, so there is not really any purchases I have made that I wish I hadn't.
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
I think the greatest challenge as a photographer is finding the right balance between the creative side of the business and the business side of the business. You can't have one without the other and I think the most successful photographers are the ones that strike the right balance.

What do you feel has been your greatest photographic achievement to date?
Starting from absolutely nothing to now having a sustainable business with a good range of clients both locally and internationally.

If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
Before we started Subzero Images I was a professional sailor and was fortunate enough to race around the world a couple of times in the Volvo Ocean Race so I would probably still be doing something along those lines. The problem with that type of work is there is a finite time you can physically do it.
What would be your dream job or assignment to shoot?
I have always dreamed of going to Antarctica or the Sub-Antarctic Islands so I guess any job that took me down to those places would be pretty cool.
What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
There is so much more to photography than simply taking pretty photos. Without any sort of business skill or knowledge you're pretty much screwed before you start. Also, be passionate about what you do.


What are your thoughts towards videography - do you see yourself moving on to shoot more video in your work?
Most definitely. We have made a very deliberate effort to up-skill into video and it is now an important part of our business. We also see it as becoming more and more relevant over the next few years. It is a really step learning curve to begin with. How you shoot, equipment, editing, and then audio thrown in on top of that makes it a big challenge. It helps though that I really enjoy producing videos so the passion is there.
What is your favourite image you have taken?
My favourite image is not necessarily the most technically correct or best composed but it is the image that means the most to me personally and from that point it would probably be something like a simple family snap of my two daughters taken on an $80 point-and-shoot.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
There are lots of good photographs out there. Everyday we are exposed to good photographs through social media, etc. But a great photograph is different. It is one that stops you in your tracks for a second or two and takes you to another place. It asks you a question - what happened, why, how, or who. It engages you in a way a good photograph doesn't. I think a lot us can go through a lifetime in the industry without taking a truly great photograph.
What do enjoy doing to take a break from photography, what recharges you?
Definitely time with my family. Although kids don't always recharge you, they are lots of fun to hang with. And if that time is anywhere on or near the water then all the better!
Who/what motivates or inspires you to keep doing what you do?
Aside from the need to pay the bills, I love creating images and when I do something I want to be the best that I can be at it. I don't feel I am even remotely near being the best that I can be with photography. I still have a hell of a lot to learn and achieve and I enjoy that challenge. I also love my work.
Check out Gareth's website
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