Interview: George Byrne / by Colin Czerwinski

We had the opportunity to speak with one of our favorite Australian photographers, George Byrne. He’s a seeker for the subliminal and the sublime in everything that surrounds him; a meticulous perception into the beauty of things. 

Q: What do you do for a living, George?

A: I’m a photographic artists and I make a living selling my work. 

Q: Describe your typical work day.

A: A typical work day for me depends on where I am in the cycle of shooting, printing, framing and/or exhibiting. Right now, I’m in Sydney preparing for an exhibition (Feb 10 - 28 at Olsen Irwin Gallery), so for the next few weeks i’ll be working hard to get the work framed and looking good + promote the show. In L.A., i’m either driving around or doing the laundry.

Q: A lot of your work is based around the LA area. Tell us about how you ended up in LA and what brought you to shooting the style that you do?   

A: I ended up in LA almost by accident, it was never really part of a grand plan. I was basically just bored of my life in my home town (Sydney) and really needed to mix it up, I gave NY a go and found it a bit much so I flew to LA and immediately felt both at home and exhilarated to be there. Creatively speaking I’ve always been interested in the aesthetics of industry and urban spaces and I was immediately captivated with the LA landscape as there is so much of both. The work has evolved from there. (more info in this video). 

Q: Is all of your work medium format and/or digital?

A: Yeah, I’ve been jumping around cameras at the moment but mostly I shoot on a Pentax 6/7, Mamiya 6, Canon 5D, 35mm film and an iPhone if it’s all I have on me.

Q: You studied a plethora of material at Sydney University such as fine art, history, philosophy and anthropology. How did your studies influence you in photography, or just your perception of the world in general? 

A: I grew up in a family of people who all just went to University and did Arts Degrees as a matter of course so it’s kinda just what I did. I turned up to day 1 of Uni and picked things I was interested in and knew nothing about. I veered off into concentrating on Art a little later on. I honestly think everything you study ends up affecting how you see the world and in turn how you respond creatively to it. For me its all about being curious.

Q: It seems that Instagram is becoming more and more of a useful tool for photographers to share their art. What are your views on Instagram, and what kind of role does it play for you?

A: I think Instagram is a fascinating development, it’s so many different things to so many different people. What I find great is that it’s created this unprecedented live visual melting pot, you scroll though – someone’s cat, someone’s lunch, someone’s artwork, someone’s picture of someone else’s artwork, someone’s joke, someone’s lame quote, a poem..Someone’s selfiie…its crazy. 

For the photographic arts specifically I feel it like it’s opened a billion windows of what was a giant stuffy building and let a whole bunch of fresh air blow through. It’s been a lubricant for activity; it’s started conversations about images & allowed artists to be very open and interconnected and share their process and thinking. I also think its served to further validate the photographic arts. 

For me, it has also been a great exercise in getting back into square photography (I used to use Hasselblad cameras a lot) and playing around with the post production tools. Its great fun and also really nice to get so much interaction with the people that follow your work day top day.

Really great article I just read where Stephen Shore discusses this very subject (click here). 

Q: I see that you work a lot with Contact Lab for printing your photographs. I’ve had a few prints done by them as well and I love their work.

A: Yes, Chris Mcelrath and the team at Contact have helped me immensely in realizing my work over the past 2 years. They’re work is second to none.

Q: Are you a music lover? What have you been jamming to lately?

A: I am a music lover, and I’ve noticed as I get older the music I like gets slower (have there been any studies into this phenomenon?!)...so fitting that theme I’m currently digging that new Beck record, AA Bondi, War On Drugs and a bunch of other sad singer songwriters.


If you happen to be in Sydney, Australia on February 10th, do stop by to check out Georges work at Olsen Irwin Gallery. More information can be found here. In the meantime, you can follow George on his personal Instagram, @george_bryne