“Trent is an Australian artist who celebrates the value of reconnecting with the living world through the dynamic power of nature, places and spaces.

– About Trent

Trent’s an amazingly talented photographer, tinkerer, ice bath guy and all-around good guy. Not sure where he got his start or when we met, but I’ve always been in awe of his photography skills. The ability to pull off series like Inner Atlas and then switch it up too something like Never Never, always keeps me interested in his work. 

Working with brands like Google, Garmin, Rip Curl and more, Trent has created his own lane as one of the (IMO) most creative photographers out of Australia. Random label, via me, but I stand behind it as I think he’s got a certain ability to translate moments that communicate fun, curiosity and creativity across his photography.

This interview is last one from the five-part series of interviews with photographers I admire for no other reason that I wanted to showcase their work. Enjoy šŸ˜Ž

Trent Mitchell

Who are you and where are you based?
My name’s Trent Mitchell and I live in Bilinga Beach, QLD.

What’s your day to day look like? 
Well, it’s not shooting photos, to be honest. My average day involves all sorts of stuff. I know I spend a lot of time thinking. What about I don’t really know, ha! Maybe I’ll go for a bodysurf, make a coffee, go for a cruise, go visit people, brainstorm ideas, swim at the pool, buy stuff for work, plan shoots, play with my boy, brainstorm more ideas, think about photos, put a photo on Instagram, look at photos, look at more photos. Dream of shoots, design stuff. I think the 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of the time I’m getting ready for the 20% of the time I’m actually shooting. But when it’s work time I throw my whole self into it.

How did you get into photography?
I used to paint as a teenager and I was never happy finishing my work, I was too hard on myself and would throw everything away. Photography offered a more immediate and finished way to work and that just resonated with me. I really enjoyed the process so I kept at it. I taught myself everything out of the will to learn.

Current photography setup? 
I have many set-ups for many reasons. My work system is Nikon and I have Aquatech water housing to compliment it. I only pick up my Nikons if I’m on a job. I have a bunch of fun cameras that I shoot personal work on, mostly film cameras. I’ve recently started shooting motion so I have a Fujifilm camera and drone to capture motion with too.

Find out more –
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/trent_mitchell_/
Website – https://www.trentmitchell.com/about/
Email – contact Trent Mitchell

Photography

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt going from dealing with small fry brands to brands like Google?
I like to think I treat brands like people. My parents always taught me to treat everyone with equal respect and I’ve learnt over time that giving my best to everyone and every job has kept me in the game. I don’t see small brands any different to large ones from my work perspective, I’m still putting in 110% for 16hrs a day regardless of who is paying and how much. I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people get a good start in launching their new small business. It feels great! On the other hand, I get an equal kick out of being a small yet integral part of a large scale job for any big names. It’s all the same. So the lesson is, treat the big and little guys with the same amount of love, it all comes back in the end.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt about being a successful photographer? 
You have to keep moving. Keep adapting and be nimble. You have to be creative not only with your work but how and why you do the work and how you see it all. I’ve learnt that living creatively has been essential for me to keep going pursuing a creative career. You die creatively if you stop moving. 

What would you consider your “specialty” and how did you find it? 
I’d say my strength is problem-solving and having a good balance of being technical and expressive enough to make pictures look and feel good. I’m not sure I have a specialty. Can balance be a specialty?

Do you have a routine when preparing for a shoot? 
Ideally, I get ready two days before a shoot and then the day before a big shoot I’ll just do stuff that makes me feel good and balanced, like jumping in the ocean, eating good food, getting a bit of sun. I’ll try and relax as much as I can. Recently my son made me some tie-dye socks and for some reason, I think they’re lucky so I wear them when I fly or shoot.

Is there a certain photo/shoot that you’re particularly proud of? 
Recently I released a body of work called Inner Atlas – it uses bodysurfing to express how people feel when they’re connecting to nature through movement, energy and space. I feel like it’s the best work I’ve ever done. Well, it’s been the most widely received anyway. So that makes me feel proud.

Looking back, what do you think the biggest factors were that got you to where you are today? 
I treat every job as my first or potentially my last. I’m very aware of how lucky I am and I really don’t take it for granted so I work hard and do my best, always. I try to over deliver and I practice so much. 

Trent Mitchell Photography

Medium

You still shoot film. Can you tell me your take on the pros/cons of film?
The only con is you have to pay for it. But that’s not a con. If paying money for beer is a con about drinking beer, well … you get my point. Film is all about the process, pleasure, feeling and tangibility. It’s a slower medium to work with and that’s a pro for me. The process brings you closer to the moment and that’s what photography is all about.

Do you also use film when it comes to your client projects? 
Yes, my last shoot for Rip Curl involved shooting a few rolls and the shots got used throughout their My Bikini campaign. I know what I want when I shoot film so I usually get a photo that works, more so than shooting with digital. I’d happily shoot whole campaigns on film. I’ve been pushing for it! 

Do you approach a shoot different if your using film vs digital?
Oh, most definitely. I’d say I have more intent when shooting film and therefore get better results with a lot less shots.

Shots for the ‘gram – Do you do a quick edit on the phone or take the time in lightroom? 
Lightroom most of the time, but sometimes I’ll just tweak an out of camera .jpg and lightly edit through the ‘gram and that will do the trick.

Do you have an ideal setup you use, or do you find yourself whipping out the phone? 
I barely take photos on my phone. Sometimes I come home from say, Tahiti and I won’t have taken one photo on my phone. Sounds hard to believe but that’s the truth! 

trent mitchell photography

Extras

What do you listen to while you work? 
I just jump on mates Spotify accounts and listen to all sorts of music, although recently a mate got me onto Kikagaku Moyo and I’ve been getting right into them.

What are you currently reading? 
Being behind trend I just read that book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. Didn’t rate it. Well, it was clever but the guy could have written the book heaps shorter. Those types of books repeat themselves so much I feel.

The best advice you’ve ever recv’d? 
Don’t turn your back on the ocean. 

What apps, software, tools make your life easier? 
Light meter, Sun Seeker, Windy, PS, Lightroom, Notes.

Where do you love to travel? 
All over Australia. We live in the best place on Earth.

What won’t you travel without?
My tye-dye socks.

Find out more about Trent Mitchell –
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/trent_mitchell_/
Website – https://www.trentmitchell.com/about/
Email – contact Trent Mitchell

Below are the interviews we’ve published with other photographers –
*Julian Martin talks shooting film, surfing & freelance life
*Eugene Tan talks Aquabumps, helicopters & photography
*Troy Archer talks shooting ceramics and ice-cream
*Bosko talks shooting film, the surf industry and sports