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Featured: Travys Owen



With a knack for bringing out the unexpected in his subjects, East London born photographer (and filmmaker/designer) Travys Owen caught our eye with his striking portraiture. The 27 year old studied Design at NMMU and is now based in Cape Town. Curious, we chatted to Travys to find out more.


Tell us a bit about your journey – how did you land up doing photography and making films? How long have you been doing each of those things?


When I finished up with my studies I came to Cape Town and started working as an illustrator and designer at a company called The President, which used to be the old Daddy Buy me a Pony.


I always wanted to get into motion graphics so I decided to teach myself a few programs and started freelancing as a motion graphics designer doing all the illustration and animation myself. I found myself behind a computer day and night completely booked out for months at a time working on corporate AV after corporate AV. Not that I have a problem with that but I wanted to do something which I could pour myself into without my style of work being “held back” by briefs and brand guidelines.


I started playing around and trying to find a way to mix film with graphics that I found interesting, and trying to find a way of combining them in ways that interest me. Initially I had no intention to make my films to be commercially viable but somehow people started to notice and I have been lucky enough to book some really fun projects to work on.


Why do you take pictures?


I take pictures purely for fun. I feel that one can get caught up in commercial photography and never take a single image purely for their own enjoyment but rather to generate work from it. I am obsessed with large format prints and hope to have a couple of my favourite portraits framed and up in my space. You will notice that all my photos are mostly portraiture based as I find people’s faces and characters the most interesting and I try to bring each and every character out in each image. I intend to do an exhibition of 10 of my favourite portraits next year.


How has your work developed or changed since you started out?


Well I have only been taking pictures for about a year now so I guess it’s developing all the time.


Your portraits are really great. How would you describe your approach to photographing people? How much direction do you typically give?


I normally give quite a lot of direction but I usually seem to choose the in-between shots where the subject is not expecting the camera to fire, those are my favourite.


Do you do a large amount of preparation before a shoot, or do you prefer a more spontaneous approach?


One thing I have learnt this year is that good unexpected mistakes rarely happen so I prepare for everything and cover myself on all bases. The more you prepare the luckier you get so to speak.


If you had to choose: studio or location? Why?


I can’t really choose either as I think they both have their place depending what you are shooting. I love both.


Other than taking photographs/making films, what do you spend your time doing?


I try to teach myself new programs every 6 months so I am busy teaching myself 3D software at the moment and want to find an interesting way of combining 3D computer generated artwork with film and photography. “Computer geek.”


What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career so far?


Stay friendly and keep it together when things fall apart around you.


Describe your photographs in one sentence.


I would rather someone feel my images and videos than try and understand them.


What are you working on at the moment, and what do you have planned for the future?


I’ve been working with ANDPEOPLE on a project for adidas’s new 2013 clothing range –  the teaser video for the exhibition was just released. There is also #skatewhereveryoucan with skateboarder Loucas Polydorou which we will be looking to get out end of August/early September hopefully. There is talk of another PHFAT video, but we’ll see. I’m also working on a short film exhibition piece with a good friend of mine Ross Fink (Dank), which we will be putting into production next month.


Video for adidas Originals:



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