Interview: Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace

 

Dan Hocking is a Melbourne based design graduate and artist whose work covers a range of disciplines from landscape to architectural and still life photography, through to product design. Dan’s imagery exhibits a graphic, minimal aesthetic with very deliberate subject matter, composition and use of light, often displaying a powerful melancholic mood. With work featured in group exhibitions as well as editorial for major Australian online and printed design publications, Dan continues to work on a number of photographic projects.

It has to be said that, besides his amazing talent, Dan is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, which always helps for scoring yourself a spot on these pages. Yes, Yellowtrace is a personality contest as much as it is a talent show, ya know. We also had to twist Dan’s arm about a hundred times before he agreed to sharing a mug shot of himself in this interview. Too modest. Do us a favour and, next time you see him, go up and give him a big squishy hug, and tell him we sent you. He (probably) won’t mind. As long as you smell nice.

Read on for our little chat with Dan about his work, inspiration and his creative process.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘I’ll Just Leave This Here.’

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
Steel and marble construction by Ha Architects who designed a kit of parts for White Suede’s new retail space.

 

+ Hello Dan, welcome to Yellowtrace and thank you for taking the time to e-chat. Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourself? When did you first decide you wanted to become a photographer and what path led you to where you are today?

It was a gradual realisation for me. I spent a lot of my career struggling to cement an idea of where I wanted to go and how to be satisfied. I worked in a lot of client-facing roles and later on some of those were related to creative fields, but it wasn’t until I found myself feeling increasingly frustrated with my career path that I started reverting back to creative pursuits.

I’d studied graphic design, I’ve drawn a lot since I was a kid, and I’d always had a subtle interest in photography and architecture. I started shooting a bit of 35mm film stuff a few years back and found that I grasped things pretty quickly, and my interest grew intensely over the last 3 years or so. I begged and borrowed gear from others, taught myself as much as I could and starting showing a few people the results. It was other people in creative industries that finally convinced me that I should be doing it professionally.

 

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
‘Airing Out’ for Broadsheet.

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
‘Airing Out’ for Broadsheet.

 

+ What are you seeking to portray in your work? Is there something that is fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

I think I’m just constantly fascinated with the way objects and structures manipulate light and vice-versa. Most of my work is very linear, shadow or light driven and uncomplicated. I don’t always plan to shoot that way but it’s always apparent to me when I look back over the shots I’ve taken at any given time. I do like structure in my images, so that aspect is more deliberate but I’m pretty spontaneous in the way that I shoot. In terms of philosophy (relating to my personal work) the thing I believe most strongly is that context can be overrated in imagery.

 

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Marasea’. Williamstown House Shot for Belle Magazine and Fiona Lynch Office.

 

+ Who or what are some of your influences? What other photographers, creative, peers and creatives in general do you admire?

I’m influenced by different creative and design practices, but in terms of photographers I’d say Shibata Toshio, Edward Burtynsky, Thomas Demand and Adrian Samson. Brooke Holm has been not only an influence but also a huge supporter since day one and I’m extremely grateful. My partner Marsha Golemac and I also bounce a lot of things off each other so you’re bound to be influenced or inspired by each other’s work.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Formative Series.’

 

+ You have done some self initiated projects in the past. Could you talk about the importance of doing these types of projects as an independent professional – have they had an impact on your overall practice, added media exposure, access to new clients etc? Any lessons learned you could share with us here?

It’s really important to me to continue personal projects. They provide more opportunities to develop, for personal satisfaction, and they can create exposure that helps to keep the commercial work flowing – which in turn helps fund the opportunity for more personal work and so on. Circle of life stuff.

When I photograph something I’m always imagining the output to be a large scale print. I want the viewer to be able to sense the mass of a slab of concrete or explore the texture of surfaces. So realising an image in printed form is always rewarding – and I’m humbled every single time someone wants to frame something and hang it on a wall.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
Ugly Duckling by Hecker Gutherie.

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
Ugly Duckling by Hecker Gutherie.

 

+ As a solopreneur, how do you organise and manage the competing demands of modern business and life? Do you have any tip or tricks you could share with us that help you in your day to day (i.e. software, online tools, shortcuts, cheat sheets, buddy groups, anything!)

My memory leaves a lot to be desired so the diary is crucial. Apart from that my setup is pretty simple and probably very typical.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Formative Series.’

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Sealed For Freshness.’

 

+ What do you feel is the most challenging part of being a photographer today? If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

The biggest challenge I face is shooting personal work in an urban environment. Photography is viewed more as surveillance than art by a lot of people these days. Laws have changed, particularly post 9/11. Police and security are pretty touchy about people taking photos in a lot of locations, particularly those that appeal to me aesthetically which creates some limitations. Ironically, if you have an iPhone in your hand you can do as you please.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
Yuki’s Snack Bar at the rear of Mr Miyagi, designed by P-E-K.

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
Kate & Kate Showroom designed by Fiona Lynch Office.

 

+ Any interesting/ funny/ quirky facts you could share with us about your work and what you do?

I started out with the theory that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission – to a degree. I went out regularly at night and started photographed unfinished construction of buildings, or their demolition (which, thankfully, I’m able to do for clients now). It was the same when I started shooting the Sans series. There was a large quarry that I snuck into on a Sunday, and when I was done shooting and heading out the owner pulled up at the gate in his car, opened it up and drove in. He parked right next to where I had jumped in the blackberry bushes to hide. He ended up spotting me after walking past me a few times and I had to crawl out, pick the thorns out of my skin and apologise profusely. I explained why I was there and before long he was driving me around his quarry to get access to the best spots and I have an open invitation to keep shooting there. Nicest. Guy. Ever. I go about things a little differently these days.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
Melbourne University.

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Mass Series.’

 

+ What advice would you give to emerging photographers who want to follow your path? What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting your practice?

Get out and talk to potential clients face to face if they’ll give you the time. I had the benefit of working in fields prior to photography that gave me the confidence to do that, and it’s definitely helped. Learn as much as you can, even if it’s from people who shoot in a completely different way or in a sector you’re not interested in. You’ll still pick something up. Assist other photographers, but focus on getting your own work out into the world whichever way you can. Take the time to explore and develop your own style and aesthetic.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Undercover’ – Commission for Milieu.

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
Cult Design Charity Project Submission by Fiona Lynch Office.

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
‘One Lachla.’ shot for Grenade Studio.

 

+ What are you most proud of professionally? And what has been your favourite shoot/ project so far?

You might have to ask me that again in 10 years. Sometimes it feels like my favourite job or project is the last one I worked on. I shot a few things in New Zealand recently, so maybe some of those.

+ What would be your dream creative project or a collaboration?

Imagine if the pyramids of Egypt were about to be built all over again. I’d want to document that.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Field Series.’

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
Lake Tekapo Dam, New Zealand 2016.

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
New Zealand, 2016.

 

Let’s Get Real:

+ What rules do you live by?

Tolerance and open-mindedness. Just trying to be a decent human being.

+ What’s the best mistake you have ever made?

All of them. I’m pretty happy with my lot in life and they got me here.

+ What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I can’t hold babies without freaking out.

+ It’s not very cool, but I really like…

Video Games.

 

Interview Dan Hocking | Yellowtrace
‘Sans Series.’

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
‘Sans Series.’

Dan Hocking Interview | Yellowtrace
The talented Mr Hocking. Woot!


[Images © Dan Hocking.]

 

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Team Yellowtrace is a small and highly dedicated bunch of cool kids who assist in the production of design stories, general admin and correspondence associated with each and every post. The team works tirelessly behind the scenes, providing invaluable support to the Editor In Chief. Extreme love and respect to the power of ten!

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