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In The Spotlight: Trent Szmolnik

Hey Trent, thanks for getting involved! First of all tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?

Hi everyone,

So I currently work as a photographer whilst also studying at QUT (Queensland University of Technology) in Brisbane. Realising my passion for photography came about a few years ago. Now that I'm quite involved in the field I realise this passion was sparked from a very young age.

From when I was a child I always viewed pictures before reading text, viewed the cover of a book and never continued to read it. I guess most young kids were fairly similar. I was heavily involved in sporting starting from the age of three. Swimming and tennis were the two main sports taking up most of my time right through until the end of high school. Living a highly active lifestyle from such a young age made it harder for me to sit down and read a book. It just wasn’t mentally stimulating enough for my mind. So this encouraged my visual communication skills and taught me to portray emotion through photography.

When did your passion for photography lead to a career? and a little bit about your business (how it started and what it is now)?

A few years ago, a friend of mine I used to play tennis with contacted me after he saw some of my work on social media. He works mainly as an event photographer and shoots for several nightclubs and social venues around Brisbane. He offered to teach me more about the nightclub scene and how to shoot in difficult low-lighting situations. I worked each Friday and Saturday night for a while whilst attending Uni which helped me to learn about shooting in manual settings on the camera. Before this, I was never game enough to try shooting in manual as the semi- auto settings seemed to work fine. Now I pretty much always shoot in manual mode as it allows a much more accurate shot as each individual setting (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) is able to be adjusted.

I recently started my own photography business, ‘Trent Szmolnik Imagery’ (@ts_imagery). I currently still work with my friend shooting nightclubs and social events but am also beginning to take on my own work with clients. I am currently studying advertising and marketing at Uni and aim to combine these two fields together with photography to form a marketing business targeting start-up companies.

The rise of social media has seen a massive change in both personal branding and business advertising, how have these changes assisted or affected your strategy?

Instagram is a huge platform for photographers and it’s where I receive much of my work. It allows you to show off your work to thousands of people in each post and demonstrate your creativity to potential clients. I like to concentrate on my Instagram account not just to gain clients, but to connect with like-minded people. I aim to take photos that portray emotion. If people look at my images and stop for a moment before continuing to scroll past, then my job is done. It’s become ever so important to stand out from the crowd due to there being so much clutter in our feeds. Because of this we’ve learnt to just keep scrolling through with people rarely stopping to take anything in.

I’ve had people ask if I’m concerned with the recent camera phone improvements as they’re beginning to allow more everyday people to produce excellent quality photos, but I disagree with them. Something I’ve learnt in my time is that having the best or most expensive equipment doesn't always equal a more superior product. I think more people having access to higher quality camera phones actually helps promote the work of a professional even more. Similarly, to our social media feeds more photos being posted is only creating more clutter. Now, when a quality image gets posted its easier for them to stand out.

Your urban style would take you to a few interesting places I imagine. Do you have any funny encounters or have gotten yourself into any situations you probably shouldn’t have over the years?

I’ve had numerous funny encounters shooting in nightclubs, as I’m sure you can all imagine. I’ve been asked to do/shoot many things in my time that nothing surprises me anymore.

The most common reactions I get when taking photos of groups of girls at nightclubs are:

‘OMG I look so fat, make me look less fat!’ ‘YUCK, that’s disgusting! Take another one’

Yes, I purposely made you look fatter/more disgusting than normal... I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.

And final question tell us something about yourself that not many may know? (scared of anything or an embarrassing story etc.)

I once made a trip to the supermarket because I was craving passionfruit. Not the ones in the tin, I’m talking real juicy, voluptuous passionfruit. Grabbed three cause I'm a big boy. I was in such a rush to devour this delicious delicacy that I wasn't very diligent in my self-serve selections and accidentally selected 2 instead of 3. I didn't realise until it was too late. I haven't returned to the scene of the crime since and the police are still after me.

If you would like to check out any of Trent’s photography, head to @ts_imagery on Instagram!


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