10 Minutes with Ty Cole

Interviews with Photographers December 14, 2010 10:59 am

Every time I pass by the Absolut Brooklyn ad I think of you.. How did that job come about?

The art buyer at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Julia Menassa, whom I met about three or four years ago, was the person who hired me for the project. Over the next few years I kept in touch showing her new work and they hired me for a couple of internal projects.  When the Absolut Brooklyn project came about, she thought of me due to my architectural/landscape work.  She presented my work to the art director and he dug it so I was officially considered for the job.  There was one problem though, the layout called for the bottle to be shot as well.  I really enjoy shooting still life and knew I could do it but they  weren’t completely confident due to the lack of still life images in my portfolio. I asked them to wait until the next morning before making a decision.  As soon as I hung up the phone, I headed to the liquor store to buy a bottle of Absolut and proceeded to set up a still life set in my living room. The next morning I sent the image to Julia, something like two hours later I was awarded the whole job, bottle and all.  Later that day, I drank the vodka to celebrate.

You are someone that can shoot architecture, interiors and landscapes but you also make beautiful portraits. Is there one over the other that you are more drawn to and if so, why?

I am drawn to all of them, equally and there are two main reasons why.  First, they all come with their own set of challenges, technically and/or conceptually and figuring out how to overcome those challenges is rewarding for me. The second reason is the aspect of learning about the subject and from the subject itself (I think that makes sense).  I enjoy shooting architecture/interiors because architecture fascinates me and I enjoy talking to the designer about the project.  My portrait work is rewarding because I get to hear my subjects’ stories, most especially when they are a craftsman/artist.  It really all boils down to gaining knowledge, that is what drives me.


You were born in Alabama and now live in New York. Do you find that living here allows for more job opportunities?

I’d like to think so but I haven’t marketed myself down there enough to know for sure.  Before moving to New York I worked full-time as an assistant to a commercial photographer in Birmingham. He’s done very well for himself so I know it’s possible to make a living as a freelance photographer in a smaller market.  We, You and I, had a conversation recently about how travel budgets are being slashed so local photographers in those smaller markets are being called upon for assignments that “big city” photographers were previously flown in to do.  So I’m sure that is changing things.  I travel back to Alabama as often as possible for family, personal projects and accent rejuvenation. Alabama is still a big inspiration for me.  But I love New York, there is not another place in the world like it, plus I met my wife here.  My ultimate goal is to one day live/work between the two.


Any goals for the new year?

Yes, a bunch!  I’m developing a few video projects and those should come to fruition in 2011.  I have an online gallery, lbascom.com, which I would like to add more photographers to.  I have so many friends who have wonderful work that’s collecting dust because they are so focused on their commercial work.  This may be a way to get them exposed to non-industry people (and hopefully put some extra cash in their pockets).  I am always thinking of ways to improve myself as a photographer and make every image better than the last so that is an ongoing goal.  Other than that, learn more and be better at everything.

See more of Ty’s work, here.

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