From operating heavy machinery to becoming a professional photographer, Dave Hawkswood’s story is nothing short of adventurous and exciting. Having spent over eight years in the civil construction industry manoeuvring the big toys, one would wonder how the transition to operating a much smaller equipment went for Dave but he tells us it was love at first sight. We catch up with Dave to talk life, love, and how the journey into fatherhood has made him a better photographer.
It was love at first sight when Dave received a Canon 40D DSLR for his 20th birthday. No reservations, no inhibitions – just a budding interest in his new toy. “I developed a growing interest and eventually began photographing the weddings of friends in our Church and from work. There are a number of things that have drawn me to photography but mainly it’s the feeling of capturing a great image that makes people smile or evokes some other emotion,” recollects Dave.
Dave’s commissioned work soon became a business venture with his good friend, Dan Wooldridge and together they started Eon Images in Adelaide. When Dave and his young family moved to Bendigo in August 2015, they decided to start their own business, Hawkswood Photography and Design, combining his and his wife’s creative skills.
For someone with such a good eye for detail, Dave’s love for people watching is no big surprise. “With or without a camera in hand I’ve always been interested in the way people live, how they dress, how they spend their time, and the emotions they show in day to day life,” says Dave. “Travel photography of course adds another dimension to this with the experience of immersion into another culture. Many of the things we see today whether home or abroad may not be around in the not too distant future so it’s important to have artistic images with which to remember them,” shares Dave.
While street and travel photography top Dave’s list of favourites, a close third is family photo sessions which Dave believes provides a great opportunity to feel and capture the connection felt within a family. “Having a young daughter I know how quickly kids change as they grow up and I think it’s extremely important to preserve these short-lived moments. It’s also a great opportunity to meet people and get to know them while photographing the connection they have as a family.”
Family photo sessions, however, can be a tad bit challenging especially when you have a running toddler that is just not interested in being photographed. But Dave welcomes the challenge and believes it’s all about creating that first connection with children and not forcing an action on them. “Let them do what they want”, says Dave. “Sometimes a child is simply not in the mood for photos. I find the best approach is not to force it. I also find it helpful to drop down to the child’s level and let them get to know me before getting the camera out. Kids all have their individual personalities and they generally have a short attention span when it comes to standing in front of a camera. So I tend to get the formal stuff over and done with fairly quickly so the kids can enjoy the rest of the session and I can photograph them being themselves. Generally after playing for awhile they’re in a much better frame of mind to stand with the family for a photo.”
While some apply their work or career skills into their daily life, Dave believes the opposite works for him. “Being a dad has made me a better photographer. Before we had Sophie I was a bit awkward with kids, I simply wasn’t prepared to do what was required to get the shot. Now it’s not unusual for me to dance towards a family like a crazy man just to get their toddler to genuinely smile for the photo!”, exclaims Dave.
Being only in his late 20s, it came as a surprise that Dave’s biggest influence on his style of work was analogue film. “The first time I shot film was on our honeymoon in Thailand & Cambodia. Ever since I’ve loved its timeless appearance and the fact that it slows me down and forces me to consider each photo rather than take ten and pick the best. While most of my commercial work is still performed with digital cameras, I still maintain a stash of film rolls in a corner of the fridge,” shares Dave.
With a penchant for old-fashioned photography, it is only natural that Vivian Maier, whose passion and talent for documenting 20th century American life was only discovered and celebrated posthumously, is one of Dave’s key inspirers. “I’m amazed by the work of Vivian Maier, a woman whose work was almost completely unknown until after her death. She shows a brutal honesty and realism in her images which I think is important with this form of photography.”
And Dave believes this honesty and realism starts from within before it can be captured in an image. “It can be a real challenge as a photographer to develop a style that you are happy with, but I guess it’s just a matter of shooting what you want to shoot, how you want to shoot it, and not worrying too much about what anyone else thinks!”, remarks Dave.