Brett Magill is a South African-born jack of all trades. His wide-ranging box of tricks includes data analyst, social media strategist, digital entrepreneur, craft beer startup founder, blogger, vlogger, and of course, photographer. We quiz him to find out more about the man behind the avatar.
Describe your career and lifestyle:
I’m a South African-born entrepreneur. I’ve worn many hats over the years, like data analyst, social media strategist, digital and startup blogger and vlogger, arts and culture enthusiast and content creator, and social media junkie. I’m currently founder and operator of a online commerce store selling locally made craft beer, JoBurg Brew, and South African millennial blog, Milled. I focus a lot of energy on digital and technological innovations to create the most effective and advanced business possible and I see social networks like a personal challenge. I’m driven by the need and responsibility to make the world a better place and to do that, I need to take over the world! Haha.
How did you get into photography?
I’ve always enjoyed photography. When I was a kid, I wanted to take photos of every animal in the world, so no one would forget them. I now have renewed my love for photography through Instagram, to capture humans in motion (I don’t know what that means yet), but my dream is to take a photo that sparks a emotional reaction.
What is the inspiration behind your Instagram?
I take photos of humans in motion: life, and the people who live it. It makes me feel I’m telling stories that make people react in a positive emotional way.
What are some of your favourite things to photograph?
I love taking photos of people in the city or urban space, at work or working hard. It makes me feel that I cannot give up either, and I hope those who see the image won’t give up on themselves. It’s a moment in time that no one is really going to see again.
How do you get the best out of a person when shooting a portrait?
I talk them, ask them about themselves, ask them to think of a happy memory. It’s amazing to see something remember something that has made them happy.
Are you ever shy to ask strangers for their portrait? Any advice for those that are?
I have, and I still do. It’s all about picking your battles and being polite and honest, not everyone will like their photo taken, but ask them and explain to them why you want their photo. Also, don’t forget to show them the shot: they were nice enough to stand for you.
Has Instagram changed the way you photograph?
I think it has, I feel Instagram has given me something to work toward when I see photographers I admire. It’s also given me ideas of how I would like to try to take my photos.
Who or what inspires you?
Emotionally, my mother inspires me (don’t tell her). She works roughly 14 to 16 hours a day and sometimes on weekends to give my brother and I a life she feels we deserve. I am older now and look after myself, but she still works towards a better life for us all. Work-wise I admire a lot of people, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Gary Vaynerchuk or Casey Neistat, each gives me some degree of inspiration in different way, but each helps inspire myself to push further
What do you want to say with your photographs, what message do you want to convey?
A simple message: don’t give up, there are people with less but do more. Something like that.
What motivates you to continue taking photographs?
The feeling when I take someone’s picture or a picture of a moment makes me feel I was feeling a part of history, a moment in the universe that will never happen again. I keep doing it because it makes me feel good to have that moment and feel those emotions of that time and space.
How do you find subjects that you want to take photos of? For example, do you travel to locations you know you’ll find appealing, or take pictures as you experience life?
I travel to new places in the city: there is always something new to see, and it seems to be a theme of my photos, but it could be anywhere. I like the city, but as long as there is emotion or meaning in the photo.
Do you have a favourite project you worked on, or a series that you’re most proud of?
I loved my Cape Town trip; it’s only about 10 photos, but the colours, nature and people were amazing. Another would be a series around colour highlights I’ve recently begun, focusing on people’s elements where the rest of the scene is under exposed. It’s about the energy.
Among your photos, which are your favourite(s) and why?
My favourite photo, that’s tough. I like my recent photos more than those of a few years back. But right now, I’m loving this one, it’s from Cape Town when I was near the sea. It shows the age old battle between nature and man, but at the same time, the colour and detail of the rust is stunning for me. I guess this is ‘me in motion’.
And finally, what is on the cards for Brett in the future?