friday feature: petrina tinslay

Petrina Tinslay is.. hands down... one of my favorite photographers. I was first introduced to her work when I became a Donna Hay reader, and have been a fan ever since.

As a James Beard Award winning photographer, Petrina is Sydney-based, but her work takes her all over Australia, the US, Asia and Europe. She has had magazine covers for Food &Wine, Vogue Entertaining + Travel, Vogue Living, Belle (Australia), Elle Decoration Germany and more. However, that's not all. Her 18 years of experience has brought extensive commercial and editorial jobs -including photographing around 40 cookbooks. If I ever see a magazine or cookbook with Petrina's work in it, I inevitably buy it... she's just that good.

I'm so happy to share her beautiful work with you.

Here is our interview, for you:

01. When did you first start shooting?
I studied at Sydney College of the Arts and did a Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography + film. Assisted for awhile then started shooting around 1990. Shot a lot of medium format and 35mm mostly Mamiya, Pentax Hasselblad, Nikon ....whatever was available in the studio I worked out of on the day. Learnt a lot as an assistant then on the job as a photographer. Shot a lot of editorial ranging from portraits, interiors, food, still life + travel so a broad cross section of subject matters, lighting conditions etc so you learn to be adaptable and to solve problems creatively and quickly with what's at hand.

02. What equipment do you use now?
A mix of film and digi equipment depending on what the job is and it's brief. I'm not a tech head, but do love great quality. To me the camera brands are secondary. I have seen images that people have taken on a box brownie that look amazing because I think the most critical element in photography is your eye and an understanding of light. Great photographers can turn out wonderful images with very little gear when needed.

03. How did you get involved shooting for Donna Hay? Was it first through Marie Claire? What is it like to work with her and her team?
When Donna was made food editor on Marie Claire Magazine she and I were paired up with together right from the beginning by the magazine and for the Marie Claire cookbooks. We shot four cookbooks together in all. Culminating in me winning the James Beard Foundation award for "Best Food Photographer" for "Food Fast" , one of our titles together. In the beginning it was just her and I shooting the books, and no other team members. Of course this number grew as the popularity of our work grew. Donna is a great food talent but does work incredibly hard to produce what she does.

04. When I think of your images, i think of beautifully fresh, clean photographs... but then again, i'm always seeing your food photography. What is your favorite subject to photograph?
I love the challenge photography brings with any and all subject matters. No two jobs are the same and every subject brings it's own challenges. I've always shot of mix of subject matters and love that aspect of my work as I think it keeps you fresh.

05. What has been the most exciting job you have worked on so far?
I've worked on some really amazing projects over the years. A few real stand outs would be travel jobs though. For me Burma(or Myanmar) was quite amazing. An unspoilt people who are untouched in the most part by tourism (especially out of the big cities) due to their military regime. I came away thinking that the western world is truly too fast paced and too materialistic. You know it, but until you see the comparison of how life once was it is an absolute adventure with gorgeous places to see + photograph.

06. Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere with anything you see.I guess in any visual industry you continually try to look at things and take them in for future reference. Movies, magazines, theatre, travel etc.

08. What is your favorite food?
Asian without a doubt. Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese.

09. Do you cook?
Love to cook. If only there was more time.

10. Who is one person (living or dead) that you would like to meet?
Nelson Mandela + Barack Obama

11. What is one quality you look for in finding an assistant?
Loyalty and reliability. This is something not taught in school. Most other things can be learnt.

12. Do you ever eat the food you photograph on set?
I often get to try the food I photograph. A definite advantage to working with food.....trying very talented cooks and chefs creations.

13. Any advice you could offer to those entering the field?
Determination and hard work are key

Thank you, Petrina! (Please leave your comments for Petrina and her interview here.)

add to sk*rt


chelsea said...

Thanks, Nicole. These interviews are a treat.

Mia said...

This was a great interview! It was nice getting to hear from the photographer who has shot the images from some of my cookbooks. :) Always inspiring.

ashlee said...

wow! her work is stunning! she has a very clean, fresh look, which is my favorite look. thanks for sharing these interviews!

cindy : quaint said...

i've admired petrina's photography for a long time. she brings a lot of life into her images. i also love her answer to question no 2. it's interesting to learn more about the artists through these interviews. thanks!

Ang said...

i love insight into a passionate person's head. thanks for both interviews. very inspiring. "determination & hard work are key."

Jinnie N. said...

thanks for the great interview. i love her photos and its so interesting to read about how they started and got to where they are... :)

C said...

Thanks for this great spotlight. I love the pictures.

louisa said...

Thanks for sharing this interview.

I've been interested in Petrina's background for ages, so it was great to find this.

Thanks, it's great.


Kellie H said...

I love these insights Nicole! thank you!!

Sals said...

absolutely loved this interview...I LOVE the donna hay magazine and especially love the kids issues...the photos are always amazing! I loved finding out more about Petrina!

felicity said...

Dear Nicole - I was absolutely delighted to see this interview with Petrina. I have been a HUGE fan of her work for years. And I don't know if you know but Pia Jane Bijkirk has worked with her in the past.

Petrina - if you happen to read this, thank you for taking the time out to do this interview, its been really interesting and I wish you all the best with your future projects. My favorite of your work is the Vogue living work that you do - pretty but not fussy - love it:-)


ex. All Things Bright and Beautiful blog

cateholst said...

Great interview. Petrina has shot some images for me (many years ago now) for Women's Weekly (generic advertisement) and Lend Lease (Annual Report front cover). She was a fabulous perfectionist and, of course, the photos were stunning!

Helen said...

I used to work as a freelance photography assistant and was fortunate enough to include Petrina as one of my clients. Quietly confident and totally driven to create magical images...One of the best.