THOM BARTLEY

Like pretty much everything in life, all this starts off small. When I was first taking shots and sharing them it would have been to a few friends on Facebook or a tiny little Instagram following. Over time my following has grew with my confidence so it hasn't been too much of a struggle, although like pretty much anybody who's sharing their work publicly there are times when I worry if it's good enough or if I'm going to offend somebody.

I've always been a pretty confident guy, it's hard to work in this field if you're not really. I grew up doing drama and spent a fair bit of time as a musician where I'd get up on stage in front of people which is much more nerve-wracking that this so I guess that helps a bit.

 

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Firstly, I'm uncomfortable referring to anything I do as art although you can call it that if you want!

Shooting women wasn't a conscious choice, really. I started out shooting a fair few men and my first bit of paid work back in the day was for a male fashion label and I've just a few minutes ago finished doing a shoot with a male model. 

I've found it harder to source quality male models than I have with women to be honest. I put up a little advert on my Instagram asking for male models a few months ago and received very few responses and the ones I did receive weren't up to my standard whereas if I throw up a similar advert and don't specify gender, I can get 100+ women responding so in simple terms, the market is just larger and as I shoot more and more women that leads to other women getting in touch which just perpetuates the cycle. 

I do enjoy working with women, though. I grew up in a female heavy household and most of my friends are women so I do feel comfortable working with them. In addition, I personally find women beautiful which means I can shoot them and edit their shots from a more raw personal place as opposed to men where I have to think in a different way.

 

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In models, I always look through all the makeup, clothing, and styling to find someone who has something interesting about them at a base level. You'll hopefully notice my work is very simple. I don't use complicated styling, makeup, or hair so a models' natural look is extremly important to the shots.

In the addition, I'm looking for a certain confidence or attitude that comes through in their work. It doesn't matter if you're the best looking person on the planet, if you can't project that confidence on a shoot, the shots are never going to look good.

It's really hard to quantify what I look for when it's almost like a feel I have as opposed to anything visually tangible.

I also look for professionalism from collaborators so basic things like reliability, punctuality, and the way they present themselves online play a big factor. Someone who understands their own strengths and can style themselves to maximise them accordingly are also a big plus.

 

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I like plain simple clothing and makeup / hair that looks relatively normal. I barely ever use makeup artists who I often find go too over the top and, in general, request the model does their own makeup. The model usually knows how to make themselves look their best. Obviously if I'm shooting for a brand / brief then that comes first but if I have full creative control, this is how I prefer it.

The easiest way to think about my style is to compare it to how different kinds of chefs work. Some chefs like to have huge teams and use loads of ingredients in a dish cooked with complicated equipment and techniques and other chefs like to work on their own and keep everything simple, let the quality ingredients speak for themselves. Neither style is objectively better but I fall into the latter camp. Because of this, in general, the shoots I find the most difficult are the ones that use bold / floral prints and complicated makeup / hair or shoots that force me to creatively collaborate with people I'm not comfortable with. I'm a selfish photographer and in all honestly I like to maintain as much control over every aspect of a shoot as possible. It might not be the cool thing to say, to admit you're selfish, but at the end of the day I do this work because I want to fulfill a creative vision I have in my head and often bringing in other people who all have their own objectives and aims on what they want to get out of a shoot which may not necessarily align with my own can often be a hindrance, not a benefit.

 

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One of the most challenging aspects of my work, but one that I'm grateful for is: Having to compete with other talented creatives in my field. It's sometimes hard to stand out when it's so easy for anyone to publicise their own work and sometimes it feels bad when creatives get jobs because of the size of their online following as opposed to their talent but that's just the way of the world. The simple fact of the matter nowadays is in order to be a "successful" (in the traditional sense of the word) creative you need to be a good business person and marketeer as well as a good creative. 

The thing is though that if it wasn't for other ace creatives out there, I wouldn't push myself to get better so I'm grateful for them at the same time as trying to compete with them. 

 

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Current global economic social political madness aside, I'm optimistic about my own person future. Luckily for me, the work that I do that you don't see on my website / Instagram (commercial photography, film, and design mainly) is growing and that allows me to maintain creative control and do the projects I want to do as opposed to the projects I have to do to make money. I've always seen money as basically freedom tokens - the more money you have, the more freedom you have to do what you want to do in life.

I'm currently in the process of setting up a company with a separate brand identity for my commercial work and I'm working with a bunch of really cool clients across numerous sectors so hopefully 2017 and onwards will be good for me.

When it comes to this kind of work, if I can continue working with great models and I stay excited about what I do then I'll be a happy guy. I've already got some shoots pencilled in for early this year I'm pretty jazzed about so things are looking good!

 

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The end of civilisation will be caused by: A massive economic crisis that results in a complete lack of confidence in the financial system around the globe that destroys our entire monetary system. 

When money doesn't mean anything and the majority of people realise they don't have any actual tangible skills that can help them survive nor do they have assets of any value in this post monetary society or a system to trade what they do have effectively, we will move from a democratic governmental system into an anarchic one which will result in catastrophic systemic failure that destroys basic services such as commercial agriculture and power that we rely on to maintain such an inflated global population.

After extreme population loss across the globe, we move into the kind of world that resembles an episode of The Walking Dead, just without the zombies.

Either that or aliens.

 













01 // Molly Owen // mollowen
02 // Laura Birbeck // pocahontas_girl
03 // Kat // ixmkat
04 // Kirby Lou // kirbylouu
05 // Rebecca L. // missrlatham_model
06 // Kirby Lou // kirbylouu
07 // Gigi Marie // gigimarie_xx
08 // Molly Owen // mollowen
09 // Dionne Tipton // dionnetipton
10 // Kirby Lou // kirbylouu
11 // Molly Owen // mollowen
12 // Gigi Marie // gigimarie_xx
13 // Rachael Bryson // rachaelbryson91

 

Thom Bartley // thombartley // thombartley.com

 

JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.

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Submissions are always welcome to junk@junnnktank.com.