STREET/URBAN CATEGORY WINNER

Ben Thomas

Australian photographer Ben Thomas is a fine art and conceptual photographer focusing his work on urban spaces.

Self-portrait, 2018
© BEN THOMAS

What got you interested in photography in the first place?
I spent a lot of time in my younger years working with the moving image, which ignited my interest in the visual arts. It wasn't until my mid-twenties living in Melbourne that I began to pursue photography. For me at the time, photography was more a toolset I used to discover and document my new home. It was this process of documentation and my pure fascination with my new surroundings that started the fire and the photography journey.   

What do you try to achieve through your photographic work?
I create work to challenge the boundaries of how a photograph is constructed and perceived. My hope is that this challenges perceptions not only of what photography is, but what a subject should be, being mostly centered around our urban built environment. I also aim to provide a way for people to consider how their surroundings affect them and the relationships that we form with our built environment.

I create work to challenge the boundaries of how a photograph is constructed and perceived. My hope is that this challenges perceptions not only of what photography is, but what a subject should be, being mostly centered around our urban built environment.

How would you describe your photographic style?
Hyperreality. 

What inspires you and your work?
A consistent theme of my work has been the built urban environment. I'm interested in understanding how people identify with their surroundings and how this impacts on future design.

How does your Masters series relate to the theme, “innovate”?
Innovation, or to innovate can be defined as 'making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products’. It’s this process of change and the resulting new ideas in Spain that this body of work encapsulates.

Spain’s entry into the European single currency in 1999 signalled a dramatic economic turnaround for Spain that created the conditions for an unparalleled property boom. It was this boom, together with access to cheaper credit and the rise of an innovative planning and architecture culture that were responsible for building an environment that was both aesthetically cutting edge and functionally progressive.

These conditions led to this generation of change, built on centuries of prior innovations, particularly in the area of urban design. It was with these factors in mind that I chose to continue my study of the built environment in Spain (Madrid and Valencia).

How was your experience using a Hasselblad medium format camera for carrying out your project?
Shooting on the Hasselblad system was an incredible experience. Technically, it provided me with images that were far superior to anything that I had experienced on other systems. My process in creating an image demands a lot from each file and the Hasselblad RAW images carried a depth of data and quality that enabled me to take my work further than I had been able to do previously. 

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HASSELBLAD MASTERS 2018