Those who have shown some creativity on a camera will know just how hard the photography game is to break into. It can take years of unpaid shoots, portfolio building, head scratching and hard work to break into the photography world. For our latest ‘How I Got Here’ feature we caught up with Tom Joy, a UK based fitness and streetwear photographer who has previously worked with the likes of adidas, Vans and The North Face to name a few.
So first of all tell us how you got involved with photography and where the journey really started?
Damn…! Well, I guess it really started whilst I was studying Graphic Design at University, back home in Aberdeen. I landed with some brands, bands, and nightclubs. Before I knew it uni was done and I immediately moved to Leeds with a 2.1 and no other focus than to work full time as a photographer. Leeds broadened my horizons and for the next four years I worked hard to establish myself whilst slowly moving into London. I arrived in London, full time at the start of 2018 and with that move I shifted my focus entirely to what I wanted to shoot and who I wanted to shoot with and here we are. I was always creative throughout school and with the backing of friends of family I slowly realised I could have a creative career which was mad to me, coming from a family of working professionals.
You have worked with some very impressive clients from adidas to The North Face recently, what have you personally enjoyed the most?
Sports, and specifically athletics is at my core. My family have had a huge involvement back home in the running community so I naturally took that knowledge and passion to mould my portfolio. Streetwear, however, has always just been another side of my identity so working with these brands has been an incredible opportunity for me show that passion and hopefully bring a broader knowledge about movement and models body positions to make impactful images with presence. I’m stoked to say that I’m reaching a really nice spot of urban and outdoors based shoots where I can work with different concepts so I guess they’re equally enjoyable for me! I love big cities but I’m a wild child at heart.
There’s 100’s of photographers out there looking to crack the streetwear and sneaker photography market, what advice would you give to those who are willing to put the hours in?
There is no real secret – just graft hard. Invest in yourself and your portfolio. You’ll be hired for the portfolio you produce. My pals started an Instagram page titled “take more photos” and that philosophy is at the heart of my work ethic. Quieter months in the past have enabled me to shoot what I really want and that only brings attention to your true potential.
What would your ideal shoot setting be and why?
This has changed a lot over the years with me wanting to shoot in industrial spaces with fashion or sports brands. Then I’ve wanted to ship out to remote areas and use epic landscapes to accent campaign themes or colour schemes. At this time, I’m itching to collaborate and work on personal projects with specialists. That could be athletes, stylists, designers, musicians or intellectuals. Brands want to work with “real” people more and more. Let me find true influencers and present their story and display how it relates to your collection.
“Quieter months in the past have enabled me to shoot what I really want and that only brings attention to your true potential.”
Tom Joy – Photographer
Give us some of your favourite sneaker and streetwear styles from 2019 so far?
I was a big fan of the Air Jordan x Travis Scott Hi. At the end of last year I got the duck brown Carhartt AF1’s and still love them. With clothing, I particularly enjoyed The Hundreds collaborating with Looney Tunes, specifically Marvin the Martian, and metal band, Venom Prison. It’s worth shouting about my pals in ‘Cole Buxton’ who are steaming ahead with a hybrid of streetwear and “athletic essential-ism”. They’re pushing hard with some of the best quality and worth watching. Today I’m enjoying brands who are pushing more sustainable based collections. The Vans x Finisterre collab is something I’m excited for and brings together my interests of streetwear and the outdoors.
If you could only use one camera and one lens for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
My Canon 5D mk4 and my 24-70mm L lens. That’s my standard set up and allows me to keep a flow during my work whilst changing focal lengths instead of lenses. Saying this, give me a few more months with my Sigma Art 50mm and we could have a new favourite.
What do you do when you are not working on photo shoots for some of the top streetwear and sneaker brands?
I struggle to switch off but over the years I am getting better. I love to cook, to workout, hike and camp, go to the cinema (but yo – turn off your phones ffs), and I’ve broken into a steady routine of reading again which I’m loving.