Sam - Motion Sickness Studio
Where is your studio based?
Motion Sickness Studio is based in Newmarket, Auckland. We are an independent creative agency specialising in digital, content, and social.
Please introduce your team and their positions?
We have 5 full time staff. Myself - Creative Director & Founder, Alex McManus - Social/Digital Head, Jono De Alwis - Creative & Art, Maddy - Social Media Manager, Sarah. Team photo attached. This year we decided to do something a little different for our staff photos. Inspired by 'awkward family photos' we shot some retro style images of the team.
What do you like best about working with a team?
Our company statement is 'good vibes only'. That really sums up our team for me, we have a creative and collaborative approach to work and it is reflected in what we produce.
What gear do you guys use?
We shoot stills on a Canon 5D MkIII, my favourite lens is the Sigma A 35mm and the Canon 16-35L. We shoot our video work on our Sony FS7 and our DJI Inspire Drone.
Would you say that MSS has a particular style you try to achieve?
I have always been fascinated with the look of film. I think when you look at old photos shot on film it has a more tangible and personal aesthetic, I always try to replicate that in post. In terms of shooting style I love symmetry (inspired by Wes Anderson). Real people and real stories are often at the centre of what we produce also.
If you had to choose only one lens, what would it be? Why?
The Sigma A 35mm lens. This lens is amazing, the low f stop and contrast you can achieve with it makes it top notch.
What is/has been your greatest challenge to get to where you are today?
Being young. When I started the business, and still now, people often judge us based on the young age of all of our team. We are now a full service and content agency, and we are sometimes competing against some big boys. However, now we have a proven track record and examples of our work, so it has become easier. When you meet a client that sees the value in having a young, fresh perspective it's great.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement to date?
Moving into our new studio was a great feeling. To have an amazing space that reflects our brand made things feel ‘real'. It sort of felt like we had moved from a startup to a business.
What would be your dream job or assignment to shoot?
I would love to shoot more visual essays on real people in remote places. Something for NZ Geo or Nat Geo would be awesome. My recent shoot for Random House in Hokitika/South Island made me realise its kind of what I like to shoot, and it's something I’m good at.
What tips or advice do you have for up and coming students who want to follow your footsteps?
Practice, get good, get good at colour grading, and shoot a massive portfolio. We get lots of people emailing us wanting to work/intern with us. I always look at the portfolio. It's easy to quickly see if someone has a unique style and can convey a story.
If you weren’t working in the industry, what would you be doing instead?
I have a real interest in photography, but also in design and creating things. I would probably be building something - doing something with my hands. Last year I bought an old commercial VW van and did a custom fitout to convert it to a campervan. That was pretty nice. I like seeing things come together, and making things that look and feel good.
What do enjoy doing to take a break from work, what recharges you?
Going out of Auckland into the wild to shoot, not for work but for myself. That recharges me, when I am getting creative for the sake of getting creative it feels good. It's nice not to have to meet a brief.
Describe an average day at the Studio.
Every day is different, that's why I like my job.
Who/what motivates or inspires you to keep doing what you do?
Seeing my business grow is really satisfying, and also seeing my work being enjoyed. To put so much work into a project and then see people really connect with it online is really motivating. Also seeing other people produce creative work inspires me, I read a lot of online photography and film blogs, marketing blogs. For example, every time there’s a write up on StopPress on a big agency it makes me more hungry.
Do you have an editing playlist? - what's on repeat at the moment?
We have a studio playlist - it's often strangely diverse. Chet Faker, Otis, Sid Diamond, Leon Bridges.
Where to from here? Do you have anything in the works?
We have signed a few new, awesome clients, so we are hard at work with them at the moment. We have a documentary style video series we will be releasing soon, which I am really excited about. Overall, all I can sense there are good vibes only. I feel we are on the cusp of the next stage of growth, and I'm looking forward to seeing what pops up next.
If you're keen to check out more of Motion Sickness Studio: