Toby Burrows is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Sydney. Like his personality, his commercial work embodies a palpable energy and vitality. This edge and vibrancy translates well into his commercial works. His personal work shares the same instinctive control of light and movement yet carries an often surreal and serene aesthetic.
He creates both commercial and art photography equally, and he embraces the challenges that commercial work present himself. He finds the discipline that exists in the realm of advertising photography is a skill useful to the production of fine art photography. The perimeters of a commercial brief still allow for collaborative creativity – it’s just when shooting exhibition projects he has complete creative freedom.
Following several successful years managing London’s largest photographic complex Holborn Studios (where he worked along side David Bailey), Toby returned to Sydney to establish an enviable commercial client list: Telstra, Vivid, Woolworths and ANZ Bank are just some of his clients. His work has also seen him collect many accolades: receiving the World Press Award and New York Festival Gold, whilst being a finalist in numerous Cannes Lion Awards and One Show Awards.
His ‘Fallen’ series received international attention from NY Arts Magazine and Dazed and Confused, and was published on both Kayne West’s and Justin Timberlake’s blogs – both impressive leaders in today’s pop culture.
Toby’s sequel series entitled ‘Soliloquy’ is equally as ethereal and beautiful as ‘Fallen’. Comprising of a series of Ophelia women immersed in misty waters, the images are inspired by Pre-raphelite paintings. ‘Soliloquy’ is a contemporary series, interpreting a classical theme. The work references the theatrical drama of Shakespeare’s Ophelia and the soft lines of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Toby added a natural pigment to the water to give the images a diffused, surreal quality. This diffusion also gave the images clarity as the figures come to the waters surface.
Despite the surreal elements, for both the ‘Fallen’ and ‘Soliloquy’ series, it was a conscious decision by Toby to shoot ‘in camera’ and avoid extensive post-production.
“This was a definite challenge. We shot in 3500 litre tanks of water, but needed the water to be heated for the talent. So we ended up using elements that are used for heating enormous vats of soup! The girls also all needed nose and earplugs that would allow them to lie on the bottom of the tanks.”
Toby often uses the feature on the broncolor Scoro allowiing him to dial down the power to 0.1. If he is mixing daylight or shooting with the aperture wide open it allows for a very natural feel when balancing light.
“For ‘Soliloquy’, we required a substantial output of power from the unit whilst retaining a good flash duration to freeze motion. The Scoro performed very well. I lit the set with 3 x beauty dishes placed close to the water at a 45 degree angle to minimize reflection on the waters surface. 2 x beauty dishes were ‘key’ lights and one was diffused as a ‘fill’ light.”
Toby said he enjoys constantly challenging himself to produce original, innovative images. He wants to keep building on past experiences and most importantly, enjoy the journey.
“I am very thankful to have chosen Photography as my passion. It’s never far from my thoughts. This career allows me to be creative whilst working each day with interesting and talented people that are constantly inspiring me to produce better work.”