Ty Cole is an artist who years ago left his birth-place of Alabama to document the man-made structures around the world with his photography. Today he is based in New York City. He knows how to shoot architecture like no one else, and occasionally also draws on his deep knowledge of shooting large spaces to capture landscapes. His ever increasing thirst for knowledge serves as his inspiration and his images are “obsessively composed”, often taken from an outside vantage point enabling the viewer to study the subject. This observational imagery is Ty’s signature style.
Discover Ty’s photography through his own words, and read our interview below!
How did you get started in Photography?
I first knew I wanted to be a photographer when I had a photography project in my 8th grade art class. The notion of being a photographer was always in the back of my head even though I didn’t actively take pictures through high school. My first two years after high school were spent struggling through a community college with no real direction. I was able to get a job working working for a portrait photographer (senior portraits, weddings…that kind of stuff) printing all the black and white orders. I sort’ve knew my way around a dark room from high school but picked it back up very quickly. I had planned to enroll at Auburn University after community college but soon realized that their photography program had been cancelled.
At that time my roommate was looking at culinary schools and a brochure for the Art Institute of Atlanta was on our coffee table and I noticed they had a photo program. Within two weeks I was enrolled for the following quarter. The Art Institute was an associates program and after graduating with the “Best In Show” award for my graduating class I moved back to Alabama and found a full-time assisting job with an advertising photographer. It was an awesome job but the allure of New York City was too much to ignore. After a year and a half, I packed everything up and moved to NYC with 3 months rent and nothing else. Pounding the pavement in the first three weeks I started to get some freelance assisting work. I did that for a few years while building my book and meeting with potential clients. Eventually I was able to stop assisting and shoot full time.
You take a lot of photos of architecture, what is most interesting about architecture photography and what is the trick to shooting a building design?
I gravitated towards architectural photography during school because of the design aspect. To me, it was creating a design with a three dimensional space in a two dimensional format. The meticulous process of composing a shot is something I really enjoy.
There are tons of different ways to shoot a building, and it depends on how you want to express your subject. As with all genres of photography the quality of light is one of the main components to the mood of the image. Certainly the styling (in this particular case landscaping or use of people) and composition are the other components. To answer your question I think the main goal is to find the most flattering angle and shoot with low light (morning or evening). Try several different vantage points and you’ll know when you’ve found the best.
Your “People” series is fantastic, what have you learned from photographing so many different kinds of people?
What I enjoy about shooting portraits is the fact that I get to meet so many inspiring people and have a dialogue with them. The key to being a great portrait shooter is being able to get a certain reaction out of your subject. After every portrait shoot I try to analyze what worked and what didn’t.
You’ve taken some amazing landscape shots in your Places gallery. What is the most memorable landscape you have ever captured?
Hmm. This is a hard one. I’d have to say the Great Sand Dune National Park was pretty memorable. It was my first time in sand dunes of that magnitude.
Is there an aspect you enjoy most about doing commercial photography?
What I enjoy most about my commercial photography work is the collaboration with my client. We are all working towards a goal and achieving that goal, as a group, and this is very rewarding to me.
Do you have any advice for amatuer photographers?
I saw a quote the other day that said “The key to having a great idea is to have a lot of ideas”. I think this true for photography. The more you shoot the better you’ll get. Always be shooting.