Justin Aitken

Published 1/1/0001

Justin was born in South Africa, but now calls New Zealand home and is based in Howick Auckland. His photography has won him awards at the highly regarded NZIPP/Epson Iris Awards, his approach is to keep things fun and relaxed for clients and loves a challenge and being creative.

Where are you based?
I'm based in Howick, Auckland.
 How long have you been a photographer?
For about 7 years now. Before that I was a keen amateur and Graphic Designer.
Tell us a little about your style of photography
The word style means a few different things to me. Your approach to people, knowledge of your gear and the way you see things etc. I try and keep things as laid back as possible and fun for everyone. It's all about emotion and personality and if I can throw some humour and quirkiness in there then great! When I'm photographing kids I seem to get better results the sillier I act, the less serious the better really and I quite enjoy that.
I love shooting landscapes and slow exposures lately, using ND filters and photographing moody & serene scenes.
What gear do you use?
Canon. Mainly because I used to work for them when I lived in England and we got good discounts, so it's always been about what I'm familiar with.
I use Full frame bodies and L series lenses. I try to use only primes, and will only use a zoom lens if I have to and if the job requires it. But personally I feel that they can make you a bit lazy unless you're shooting weddings or where time is limited…and I just love the quality that primes deliver.

Do you have a favourite lens? - If yes what is it and why?
Ooooh tough choice. I love my 100mm f/2.8 L because of its ability for close up work but also it can be used as a good portrait lens. I got the 85mm f/1.2 L II recently and I'm still drooling all over it. Photographer friend Mike Hill introduced me to the Canon 55mm FL 1.2 and I love it. It's an old film lens (from 1968 I think) it needs a mount attachment to use with a digital body, but it's a special piece of glass that blows my mind. It has manual focus and manual aperture, and it certainly makes you respect photographers from the older days and the results they got with the equipment they had to work with.
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
Probably having to deal with the business side of things and realizing that I can't just be a photographer but also need to be a business owner and a good people person.
What do you feel has been your greatest photographic achievement to date?
Winning awards for my work and achieving my first Gold Award at this year's Epson/NZIPP Iris Awards down in Christchurch. It's a special photograph that means a lot to me so I'm stoked it was awarded Gold.
Becoming a member of the NZIPP, has changed my view on professional photography and it's probably the best move I ever made!
I'm lucky to have photographed some awesome musicians too; Metallica live in Auckland was pretty darn special!

If not a photographer, where would you see yourself?
Writing original songs and rocking out on stage with my acoustic guitar haha… (Dreams are free)

If the chance arose, who or what would you most like to photograph?
Bob Marley & The Wailers live! Without a doubt!

What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
Don't be afraid to try new things and don't give your work away for peanuts. Work hard and give it your all! Have patience because nothing happens overnight. And practice, get out there and practice hard. Then practice more. Just like musicians with their instruments or sports people on the field, if you don't practice hard you don't get results. Keep learning, none of us will ever know it all and there is always more to learn.
Be and stay positive! And be a good people person too, no one wants to deal with a grump!
Has the advent of digital been beneficial or detrimental to professional photographers?
Well change is inevitable so it's important to adapt and embrace it I think. Digital has opened the doors to more options, ideas and people. But there are now a lot of new Facebook pages getting created every day by new DSLR owners.


Are you a fan of using flash in your work?
Yes I am, not for live concerts as its not allowed and is a definite way to ruin the stage lights, but for portraiture it's great. It's tough to beat blessed daylight but I do love the challenge of using artificial light. Lately I have been enjoying using it outdoors with my 640W Einstein. I feel that studios can become a bit mundane sometimes and it's tough to beat NZ's natural backdrop.
 In your opinion, what makes a good photographer?
Someone who can express emotion and connect with people through their work. There are so many good photographers out there and an abundance of imagery so if you can create work that makes people stop, look and appreciate then that's a good thing! I think passion; dedication and a hunger to learn more are important ingredients to not just being good, but to improving and becoming better at it.

What do you do to get away from the grind/to de-stress when things get too hectic?
I'm enjoying cooking lately, but I love spending time with my fiancé and taking a drive to somewhere we haven't been before. Playing my guitars and singing at the top of my lungs haha. And listening to music, I can't live without music!
What or who motivates you to keep doing what you do?
All the amazing quality work and talent out there, just makes me want to push harder to be better. Take a look at the NZIPP/Epson Iris Awards 2012 results to see what I'm talking about! Simply outstanding work there!
View Justin's website here


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