Continuing the photographer series we started back with Julian Martin (and then Eugene Tan), we now want to put Troy Archer on your radar – if he isn’t already.

Troy Archer, or Trolley, used to be the whiz-bang marketing guy at Element Skateboards in Australia and was responsible for awesome stuff like the Pick Your Poison Tour with Bam Margera, Tosh Townend and Josh Rio, to growing the brand out here and maintaining a strong family of team riders.

These days he spends his time behind the camera shooting everything from sweet treats for New Zealand Ice Cream to the lipstick colours of MAC Cosmetics to figuring out ways to shoot tea for T2. His industry highlight reel includes working with Billabong, Rhythm and the recently revived T&C.

Troy Archer

Who are you and where are you based?
I’m a grown-up child, husband of 12 years and father of two amazing children.

What’s your day to day look like?
Up early, down late, try not to think too much, almost constantly working, trying hard to be a good parent and husband, I laugh frequently, drink lots of coffee and look around for people that are smiling. I really try to open myself up to appreciate things daily, some colours, a birthmark, clouds and leaves, the sound of people living, stuff like that.

Current photography setup?
Nothing too fancy, I have a couple of Canon 5D Mark III’s, a G16 and a bunch of Sigma and Canon Lenses. I have some lights, of course, a mix of Speedlights and Alien Bees, some Elinchromes but again, nothing fancy.

How did you get into photography?
I used to work at Shamies in Kirra when I was like 11, 12, 13, 14yrs old and I always saved up to buy nice things. A stereo, a new surfboard, and then I bought a Pentax Z20 one day and I guess that started things off for me. I was really bad at exposing correctly, but I loved shooting rolls of film and waiting for them to be processed. They were probably 80% incorrectly exposed because I was just learning myself without any guidance. I took some photography classes at High School but never really learnt how to develop properly so it wasn’t until I got a DSLR in my hands that I could start really making photographs.

Find out more –
Instagram –
Website –
Email – contact Troy Archer


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt going from dealing with small fry brands to brands like Happy Socks and MAC?
Well, I don’t know, I think it’s all kind of the same. If I’m shooting something for a big brand, or a little brand, I still try to get something that we can both be really proud of. People are passionate about what they do so it’s nice to be able to put an image to the thing that they are so passionate about. I’ve just finished shooting ceramics by Marloe Marloe, who is a small brand, but Marloe carries so much love for her work that the process of creating photographs for has to come with the same level of care that would be applied to a big global brand, maybe more even because you believe in their journey. Same with another small brand I work with called Noosa Basics, they so passionate and invested in the outcome that you can’t do anything but try to produce your best every time.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt about being a successful photographer?
Defining your rates, and understanding why they are what they are, and being able to explain what your client gets for what you’re charging them. If you’re not clear about your rates you’ll struggle to land any work.

What would you consider your “specialty” and how did you find it?
It’s definitely content based commercial work. I do want to expand my scope, do some more personal work, spend more time out of the studio, more time using natural light and natural surroundings, abstract portraits and ex situ product photography, that’s all on my list.

Do you have a routine when preparing for a shoot?
To an extent I do. But it’s the same routine I have for everything. Clean up the space, put on comfortable shorts and a tee shirt, make a cup of coffee and break off 4 squares of chocolate, stomp my feet three times and spin around once in both directions.

Is there a certain photo/shoot that you’re particularly proud of?
Actually, I think I’m most proud of the work I’ve been doing with New Zealand Natural Ice Cream. Ice cream is really tricky stuff, it’s kind of hard to scoop perfectly, it melts fast and you have to be really calm to get the outcome that you planned, but so far, it’s been really rewarding.

Looking back, what do you think the biggest factors were that got you to where you are today?
I’d say putting myself in the client’s seat because I have occupied that seat myself for so many years as a Brand and Marketing Manager, I think I also put myself in the customer’s seat, the one that will engage with the work and be influenced by the brand’s message. The work isn’t about me when I’m not doing personal work, even though I try and shoot an image every time that I’d be proud to have in my folio, I try and do the work for the client and the customer first and foremost.

Hacks for the aspiring photographers on the move?
Learn about the Exposure Triangle and master the art of operating on little or no sleep.

Troy Archer Photography


(do) You still shoot film. Can you tell me your take on the pros/cons of film?
I never shoot film anymore and probably never will.

Do you also use film when it comes to your client projects?
Hell no.

Do you approach a shoot differently if your using film vs digital 
Yes, I don’t take the photo if there’s film in the camera, haha.

Shots for the ‘gram – Do you do a quick edit on the phone or take the time in Lightroom?
I treat every image as something important to me so I take time and that’s why I don’t post every day.

Do you have an ideal setup you use, or do you find yourself whipping out the phone?
I never use my phone for social content that stays around for longer than 24 hours.


What do you listen to while you work?
I have a mix of songs that I add and subtract from. This was a playlist I did for an interview with Rhythm a while back that has stuck as my working playlist.

What are you currently reading?
No reading for me, I get tired too quickly. I have been listening to a lot of podcasts though, my favourites are Design Matters with Debbie Millman and The Tim Ferris Show.

The best advice you’ve ever received?
Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself.

What apps, software, tools make your life easier?
Photoshop, Maps, Dropbox.

Where do you love to travel?
I used to love San Francisco but I’ve not been for so long!

What won’t you travel without?

Troy Archer Photography

Find out more about Troy Archer –
Instagram –
Website –
Email – [email protected]

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 photography

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