Igniting The Passion

Originally from Perth, Christian Blanchard studied photography at high school and then later at Mount Lawley TAFE, but after a year-and-a-half of listening to lecturers who weren’t necessarily at the leading edge, he left keen to get started. For a year he did work experience at a studio working with three photographers. It was a lean time, the work without remuneration, and he eked out a living as best he could. But it was also a time in his life when he says his eternal flame of passion for photography was lit. And he hasn’t looked back.

He laughs when he talks about the younger generation of photographers who want to work with him, telling how the conversation inevitably comes down to the question “When am I going to be paid?”

“And I’m like, when are you what? You have to be prepared to do stuff for nothing and to learn as much as you can, but they don’t get that”.

After staying with the same studio for three years – Christian progressed from work experience to paid assistant to fulltime photographer. In 2003 he moved on, eager for the next opportunity which, in this instance, was Melbourne. For a few years he shuffled back and forth between Perth and Melbourne as projects dictated. Then he “…ran away to New York. I wanted to see the world”.

After New York came Paris, London, Tokyo and Thailand.

“I wasn’t working, just running amuck, taking photos, actually going through that whole selfexploration thing and working at odd jobs to make ends meet.”

After getting the travel bug out of his system – for the time being, at least – he threw himself into work back in Melbourne.

“I’m a ‘yes man’ – when a job comes in, I’ll take it; to keep myself alive, to keep buying new toys. But I still like to take time off. Last year I took three months and worked on my own stuff, but I also had time away from the camera. It helps me to refresh.” A recent personal project was an Alice in Wonderland inspired fantasy shoot with twin sisters who were interchangeable as ‘Alice’. The images are very slick, the production values complex and both the models and sets highly stylised.

Even though I know this story intimately, seeing it through Christian’s eyes gives me somewhat of a new perspective.

“I work to my own vision and build on my own story,” he states by way of explanation.

Asked if he were to strip down to the basics, he doesn’t hesitate.

“My laptop and my camera bag with two cameras; the one I use all the time, the Nikon D3X and the other, a D300, which is a few years old and used as a back-up”.