Charlie Blacker is a photographer who lives and works out of a roaming van with his partner Rachel. He is a contributor to Shutterstock’s Artist Series, where his images capture the beauty of Australian life.
Blacker spoke to B&T about his art, #vanlife, and his work for Shutterstock.
B&T: How does your living and working space influence your photography?
CB: Living in a van has definitely impacted my photography work. Even just the fact that there is limited space available for storage has meant that I’ve had to improvise and adapt my way of doing things. Most of all though, it has allowed me to explore my passions and fully immerse myself in nature. It allows me time for presence, reflection and simply just “being” in life.
In terms of your career, what have you learned from travelling in the van?
The word “career” is a term that I don’t use very often! I would say that in terms of working for a living, living in a van has made it apparent to me that it is important to take life as it comes, follow a path of least resistance, and to focus on what you are truly passionate about. I have had to be flexible in my work choices in order to make a living, but I still only work on projects and jobs that are in alignment with my values. Sometimes this means less money, but at least I know I will be happy. I am also finding that sticking to values can help define your niche as a photographer, meaning that you become a specialist in your area, with the potential for making more money, just by doing what you love!
How has it challenged your art?
When I think about it, living in a van has forced me to capture what is real. Earlier on I spent a lot of time shooting epic landscapes with multiple exposures to form images that were bordering on fantasy. That is fine, but a lot of my focus now is on shooting natural content from my own personal perspective, and it seems that people find it easier to positively engage with that content. I believe my own style has developed from the presence and time in nature that the van life has allowed me.
What does it mean for you to partner with a brand like Shutterstock?
Stock photography has been a long-term investment for me. I have been uploading my unused content that would otherwise be gathering dust on an old hard drive for quite a while now. It has become an essential part of my workflow. Whilst stock photography may not be for everyone, I have had success myself. Shutterstock has supported me and my art along the way with numerous articles, posts, and now a video, which I am very thankful for.
How does it feel to be part of the Artist Series?
It’s kind of odd to be on the other side of the lens, but it’s also nice to see my life from another perspective. My partner Rachel and I have received quite a lot of media attention since we started living in the van, but Rachel is often the center of attention. This time it was me! All I have to say on that is I have a new-found appreciation for models and actors. Haha!
What career achievements are you most proud of, and what goals are you still striving towards?
What I’m most proud of is over the last few years I’ve consistently stuck to my own values and goals. There have been many times when people have tried to convince me that I’m wasting my time and that I should get a ‘real’ job. I’ve even had people being angry at me supposedly for being happy, while they are not. The truth is, both Rachel and I work very hard at our own goals, and it has been challenging at times to stick to those goals, especially since they don’t fit with what is considered normal in our society. That being said, we have had an overwhelming amount of support from people on social media, companies like Shutterstock, and just random strangers! So moving forward, Rachel and I are looking to combine our talents and produce content that helps people to feel closer to nature, and that helps improve inner wellbeing. Stay tuned!
All photography by Charlie Blacker for Shutterstock
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