When your work makes the cover, and your partner, the “getting to know” page! Find out what his most unique shoot ever was
How long have you been a photographer for, and why do you love it?
I’ve been a photographer (PaulTGF) since around 2005, when I was living in Australia, and really developed an interest. I’ve always been pretty creative, and liked sketching, drawing etc as well as taking random pictures, so it came pretty naturally. On top of that, I met so many creative people, many from the fashion industry, so, again, it just took off naturally
You also spent some time in NYC photographing some very established celebrities, when was that, and would you want to go back there?
After Sydney, I would often attend New York fashion week, and again, it’s all about the contacts. Luckily I’d found myself shooting front rows and backstage at several big names like Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen & DVF – once you get your foot through the door, things open up and become much easier. Once you have made a contact, that connection lasts for good.
Life now has changed, and I have a beautiful little girl, so, naturally I need to have more of a base, and can’t just take off last minute on any flight. However, that said, i will definitely be attending more FWs, and have close connections in both Paris and London too. Maybe one day, I would even take Lola along
What is working in NYC like, having come from sunny, little Malta?
Having done most of my schooling in England, the cold was never an issue. On top of that, I’ve always been a city person. I love fast paced life, everyone rushing non stop. The adrenaline gets you, and its hard to get enough of it. I also loved the contrast of the chilled, slow life here in the sun, then doing fashion week in a snow storm in NYC. Awesome!
Among all the personalities you photographed, who were the most significant ones for you?
It would have to be Anna Wintour, from the fashion industry. I’ve photographed her at a few shows and she’s always been super obliging, contrary to peoples impressions.
Who would you most like to photograph that you havent had the chance to yet?
Prince would have been the ultimate. The energy, presence, adrenaline and just sheer genius he exuded at all his shows and appearances was totally unique. i still choose to accept his death. Still living, I’d have to go for Jack Nicholson. What a legend!
Most significant moment / photograph in fashion?
Probably shooting front row at Marc Jabobs, asking Anna Wintour to remove her glasses and smile. I pushed my luck a little, but luckily she liked the cheekiness in me, and said “of course” and smiled. It could have turned out a lot worse.
Favourite non fashion related moment during fashion week?
Singing “Whats up” with Linda Perry from 4 Non Blondes at Karaoke. Too many laughs. The parties weren’t half bad either.
Whats the best thing about photography in general?
Life is short and time moves too fast. Photography has provided me with a unique way of stopping, slowing down and appreciating memories from this fast life, that may otherwise have been lost. Capturing these moments, means they can be remembered again and again.
What type of photography do you specialise in?
I would like to think that I’m more the creative type and adapt easily and I shoot mostly music events and fashion. My favourite is definitely backstage though. It’s less pay and less prestigious to some perhaps, but the buzz, excitement and adrenaline are just amazing.
What gear do you use, and do you prefer studio work or shooting on location?
I have pretty much always been a Canon guy. Im not sure why, but I have always shot with Canon and owned them, going back as far as I can remember. I also much prefer shooting on location. Busy places can be fun too. I like pressure and being in situations that can’t be predicted beforehand.
What interests you most in other peoples’ photography?
Everything! I love looking at other styles, techniques, equipment used, lighting, angles, etc. Like the technology that we use, we are constantly changing, improving and learning. I love new challenges and seeing competition. I also love seeing things I’ve never shot, like underwater wildlife which is incredible.
Which photographer is the most important of all time, in your opinion?
Ooh! Tough. Very very tough. I don’t think you can mention one, but my favorites range from the classics such as Lindbergh, Annie Leibowitz , Steven Klein, Warhol, LaChapelle, Richard Avadon, Helmut Newton, David Bailey, Testino etc. impossible to pick one.
Which single photograph stands out in your early memories most?
Again, tough! Possibly the Michael Hasbland image of Andy Warhol & Jean Michel Basquet both in boxing gloves
What do you find interesting to photograph in everyday life in Malta?
Easy! Faces and streets. Especially the faces of really local, typical, ideally old, legends, that we have scattered all over the island. There are some real characters like the famous Joe “The Powerful” from Marsascala, who invited me into his home before shooting and was absolutely lovely. Their stories are awesome too, and by photographing them, we can try to make sure their stories never get forgotten
What about shooting on movies here in Malta?
I love shooting stills. Its something relatively new to me, having shot a handful of shorts in the US, and 3 or 4 full length features here. Its always fun and, despite the long hours, you really do meet great people and form new friendships. Team work is crucial on set
Whats up next on your agenda?
I’ve always wanted to get Malta the exposure it deserves. We get that exposure in film, with numerous movies filmed here, and Isle of MTV helps a lot on the music front. It’s now fashions turn. We are moving in the right direction, but that’s my next aim. Be it by getting more contacts to shoot here, top models, other photographers, stylists, anything.
What do you love most, away from photography?
Sport is always top of my agenda. Playing it, watching it, reading about it. Football and rugby take top positions by a long way, but i love most sports, bar F1 and cycling. Yawn. Waterpolo matches here are great fun too, though I have been slacking in my attendance recently. That aside i love collecting books, mainly photography and film coffee table ones, and have now got quite a collection
If you could do something that would have a positive influence on the world, what would it be?
I suppose the cliche answer, would be to set up anything major, be it a sporting event, music festival, or fashion event in a poor or troubled area. That in itself would bring massive exposure to the particular area, and once that exposure is running wild, that is when you can get people to sit up and take notice of the real problem and ideally help.
What was the most significant visual moment in your life?
Hands down, the birth of my daughter and holding her for the first time.
Finally, what has been the most unique shoot that you have ever shot?
Hmmm. That would have to be a recent one here in Malta. Bibi, my partner styled it, and the star of the show was Lola herself. It was absolute madness but lots of fun at the same time!