The Work and Words of Photographer Peter Whyte: Featured in Graphis Journal 370

This week, we take a trip down under with Tasmanian photographer Peter Whyte, featured in Graphis Journal 370!

Peter Whyte studied graphic design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (now RMIT University), which helped develop Whyte’s approach to his photographic practice and gave him the critical skill to work closely with designers. He started working as a designer in a Melbourne multimedia production house, where he worked for clients including Ford Australia, Shell, and Telstra. In the early 80s, he moved to Hobart in Tasmania and established his photographic practice. Over the coming decades, Whyte built a reputation for excellence, photographing the people, places, and enterprises of his island state, along with national and international commissions. His images have appeared in numerous global publications and have received many international awards, including several from Graphis and PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris. In addition to his commercial work, Whyte has an active fine art practice and has held solo exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart.

The range of subjects Peter can shoot is evident in his photographs. The self-initiated piece “Emerging Poppies 061” was submitted to the “Emerging – Decaying 2015” exhibition (above, left) after Whyte closely observed the specimens in his studio over a period of weeks from bud burst to decay. “The Art of Tea” (above, right) received a Gold award in our Photography Annual 2014 competition. And “5 Volvo Trucks” (below) was shot for Volvo Trucks Australia, their distributor Webster Trucks, and their client Toll Global Logistics.

Here’s some of Peter Whyte’s Q&A:

What inspired or motivated you in your career?

I grew up in a stimulating, yet fairly visually illiterate, large farming family in rural Victoria and went to a high school with no art department. It was while studying graphic design at RMIT in Melbourne that my photography developed in conjunction with my design education. For me, these two disciplines are inseparable and the backbone of my practice.

What is your work philosophy?

Do what you love. Prioritize interest over return. Be prepared to say no.

What is it about photography that you are most passionate about?

I am passionate about lighting, and in particular, shadows. This is not from a technical point of view, but more about the credibility, content, and intent of the image. Shadows hold mystery, give form to face and to landscape. Shadows allow me to control what I wish to reveal or conceal. Shadows leave the viewer wanting a little more — having to imagine what they cannot clearly see.

You’ve worked on various genres of photography; do you have any specific favorites? 

Still-life photography would be my favorite genre. It beautifully combines design, composition, construction, attention to detail, and lighting. Swiss typographer Wolfgang Weingart said in an inspiring lecture in Hobart that graphic design is to make an empty space not empty. That is how I approach still-life photography.

To learn more about Whyte, purchase Graphis Journal 370 at graphis.com.

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