Monday, 23 February 2015


Melbourne’s Derek Swalwell says he learnt more than technical skills when he started out as a photographer’s assistant. The experience of working with prolific photographers got him thinking not only about his craft but the business side of his career too. Since then he has gained a reputable roster of clients - from architects to leading interior magazines and advertising agencies. His work has been published in Vogue Living, Belle and Inside Out and he’s worked on campaigns for Sony, Mazda, Toyota and Telstra, among others. In recent years Derek has also been building a Singapore client base, which has given him the opportunity to shoot a range of amazing homes in the region. “Although it’s always great to return home to shoot great design by local talent,” he says.

Which five words best describe you? Inspired, passionate, meticulous, competitive, persistent.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Luckily for me I obtained an assisting role with some prolific photographers at the time, and although I intended on entering the profession, this really went a long way to setting me on a path to thinking about the photography as a serious business. I’ve worked hard to develop a style in my architectural work, whilst pushing myself hard into advertising and lifestyle work.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To work hard, take yourself seriously as a competitor, and keep shooting your own work.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Shooting an advertising campaign for Sony. Great location, great product, great team, dream gig. They’re rare.

What’s been your best decision? To run my own studio. My work changed dramatically when I had my own space. 

Who inspires you? Highly creative people. I’m constantly amazed at what some creatives are capable of. 

What are you passionate about? Light, architecture, doing the absolute best I can in every project. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Julius Shulman, Oscar Niemeyer or John Lautner the architect.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To shoot all over the world for one job. 

What are you reading? Superhouse by Karen McCartney and Richard Powers.

images courtesy of derek swalwell

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