INTERVIEW: BILLY ZAMMIT
Being purveyors of all creative avenues, we thought it only was fitting to shine some 'well deserved' light on Sydney's newest young gun behind the lens, Billy Zammit. It would be no surprise to us if any of the following images/videos embedded in this post are familiar, as Billy has been nothing but WORK over the last year, capturing moments across Australia's ever growing music and festival scene. Not only has Billy captured images of world class performers, but he's also snagged himself some enormous contracts in the Commercial world- Notably with Adidas X Footlocker, Converse and an array of top echelon Australian Brands. Billy was also the man responsible for illeqwip's first 'BBQ Rap' recap video (linked at the bottom of the page). It's glaringly clear to us here at both illeqwip and 'Strictly Collective' that Billy is the real deal. His content is of the highest order and something that inspires us on daily basis as he continues to build his impeccable portfolio.
We sat down with Billy and picked his brain about what's been happening of late.
Introduce yourself, what’s your background?
Hey! I’m Billy Zammit, A Photographer & Videographer based out of Sydney Australia. Working professionally in the commercial creative industry.
You’re still a young buck, What got you into photography and Video?
I’ve always been behind camera. Throughout school I was frequenting punk/hardcore shows and sneaking in through backdoor while also venturing to endless amounts of abandoned locations around Sydney to document what I found interesting. I guess capturing a moment just came naturally to me and with the combination of music, skating and graffiti culture I was gravitated towards those genres.
Favourite piece of equipment? (Your weapon of choice)
At the moment my go to is a 5D Mark Iv for stills and an FS7 mark ii for all my video work. I also have some other equipment (a7sii, 5d3 etc, lighting etc.) that I use on the daily. Over time I’ve learnt to streamline my gear to a very limited kit which I use pretty much every day. Up until recently though I was loving my Konica Auto S3 35mm which I bought for $5 in 2013 in Newtown. My recent trip to HK killed it.. A moment for a fallen soldier.
Being the incredibly busy man that you are, what have you been working on lately that’s truly excited you?
Honestly, I’ve been so caught up with the exhibition I haven’t had a moment free to focus on other things. I’ve been working pretty much every day this year between festivals, touring, fashion and documentary work. I basically spent every night I have been up until 3am working on Kowloon - In Transit. As of late I’ve been extremely selective in my projects that I take on - ensuring it’s not just coverage and I’m able to lend a creative perspective to the work. My focus has been ensuring that I create work that I enjoy.
What's your one defining characteristic that makes your works different?
I’m a firm believer of capturing a moment rather than curating (dependant on the situation). I think I’ve found a middle ground where my work is complementary of the energy received from the situation. Having a balance between 'in-camera' and post production is extremely impotant to ensure a unique look and feel to my imagery. I’m not a fan of the whole photo manipulation thing that’s occurring of late- compositing images together doesn't sit well with me..
I feel that’s where my work stands out. I try to make a cinematic approach to a situation that’s authentically captured.
For a kid who’s just starting or wanting to get started, what advice would you give them?
1. Just keep shooting! There’s no excuse now. Everyone has a camera at their disposal- from iPhones to DSLR's- content is key.
2. Always stay hungry and working towards the bigger picture.
3. Never be the smartest person in the room and always appreciate criticism.
Whose making moves creatively in Sydney?
The entire Sydney creative hub is making moves at the moment! In different genres I have some people I would recommend watching out for.
In the fashion world; Jack Steel, Dan Knott & Kiera Chevell are without a doubt my favourite fashion photographers. Their work is something I admire.
In Music; Jared Leibowitz, Ian Laidlaw, Mikki Gomez, Jess Gleeson & Georgia Moloney. Each are individually making some incredible work at the moment. There’s definitely a shift from straight up documentation to having an artistic approach now and these guys are right on the cutting edge.
Finally, in Commercial work it's very dependant on agencies and clients and this makes it very hard to pick individual people out. That being said, Adidas has definitely been pushing boundaries in the artist collaboration. Also 'Sydney City' has been recently installing some incredible artworks/murals around town which has been a thing for some time now but as of late feels even more evident.
What Album had the most impact on you growing up?
This is hard.. I can’t pick one album I could say had an impact - however there’s definitely been a few transitions in taste. I can’t really go past the importance of Childish Gambino ‘Camp’ & ‘because the internet’ for me personally. Also, Of Mice and Men ‘The Flood’.
What's in the tape deck of late?
A lot of Post Malone, Franke Carter & the Rattle Snakes and Turnover. Lately, I've been trying to chill a little more so I think I’ll go into cardiac arrest if I listen to anything heavier at the moment.
Favourite creative artist?
Petra F Collins. Without a doubt - I find it extremely difficult to fault anything she creates. Also - it’s so contrasted to my work that I can enjoy it forma new perspective.
Favourite Book/podcast/source of knowledge?
I pretty much exclusively listen to the Joe Rogan Podcast - not the most accredited source of knowledge and information..
Shoe/sneaker of choice?
At the moment I’m between my mono all black low cut doc martins & a pair of white YMC sneakers.
What's your poison come party time on weekend?
Gin and anything..
What do you love about Sydney?
The creative hub, the location and the people. I still find it difficult to comprehend how this city is built around the harbour and that we’re only an hour in either direction from Bris-Vegas (Brisbane) and Mel-Gurn (Melbourne) via Plane.
What do you hate about Sydney?
Politics, housing cost & lock outs. Enough said.
You’ve worked with some pretty amazing brands and artists to date, who would your Dream collaboration be with? Why?
I’ve been so extremely fortunate to work with some incredible people in my career. I’m slowly ticking off everyone I’ve wanted to work with. I don’t really have a single artist or creative I would love to work it - It used to be Childish Gambino but I’ve been lucky enough to capture his performance on four occasions to date. I think Coachella or Reading & Leeds Festival would be a goal for the future.
What’s your favourite part about your job?
Definitely has to be a combination of sharing the work and the creative community. I’m seriously a product of my environment and I’m extremely fortunate to have such amazing people constantly around me. Sharing work and then announcing when a project is live after working on it for what feels like an eternity is still an incredibly satisfying feeling.
What’s your least favourite part about your job?
Finishing at 4am sometimes and having to be on a flight at 6. The late nights and early mornings are something I'm slowly getting used to. That in combination with a rubbish diet after forgetting to eat all day is not a good spot to be in.
You’ve got your first solo exhibition and Zine Release on the March 7th. Tell us a little more about “Kowloon In Transit.." and the vision behind it. What people can expect at the show?
‘Kowloon - In Transit.’ has been five years in the making with several visits to Hong Kong - I’ve finally found a conclusion with the imagery. I initially wanted to showcase the city from my personal perspective but the body of work quickly morphed into a much more important beast than that. The exhibition and zine release is the first of my series ‘In Transit’ which will showcase my travel photography across several editions. More importantly than anything else for me, I wanted to create a body of work which is relatable to tourists of Hong Kong and those who have visited, residents who can understand the atmosphere and appreciate the creative spin on the everyday life and for those who can see the project for face value - It truly is beautiful city with a slightly grimey edge. This can be viewed from a street photographers point of view.
Be sure to get down the good.space gallery, March 7 between 6 PM - 9 PM - 115-119 Regent St, Chippendale, Sydney.
Find out move about the show via the facebook event page.
Written and Curated by Ryan Bennett