BEHIND EVERY DOOR 
WITH TOM SCHULTE
(he/him) 

Knock Knock?
Who's there?
Joaquin Gonzales from Nextdoor,
here to interview artist Tom Schulte.
Hello! Come on in... 
Welcome back to our Behind Every Door Interview - a series which aims to provide insight into the minds of some of our favourite emerging Brisbane-based artists.

Tom Schulte is a self taught photographer, videographer, and writer based in Brisbane, Australia. With a simplistic style, Tom focuses on depicting beauty at its most basic and true form, minimising any technical and aesthetic consideration during the planning and production period.
As an avid DIY-er, everything is done by hand, from shooting and developing, to editing, projecting, printing and framing.
Paris, France, 2019, Fine art print
J : As a self taught photographer, what was it that got you into photography?

T : Instinct, I suppose. Based on the fact that once I picked up a camera again in my late teens, after years of hiatus, it felt only natural to take photos. I believe several cameras were around the house during my upbringing and if I recall correctly, they sometimes served as my ‘toys’. In some of my earliest school camps, I remember taking disposable cameras to simply take photos of what I saw was interesting at the time. That hasn’t changed. In that sense, again, instinct, or familiarity with cameras got me into photography.
J :  I’ve noticed that you sort of shy away from traditional rules of composition in your photography. Is that something you do intentionally?​​​​​​​
T : Quite the opposite. In fact, I believe my photographs conform with the traditional rules of composition. And no, it certainly is not intentional, because intentions = thought, and when I’m taking a photograph, I’m not focused on the composition. I’m focused on whatever is interesting to my eyes. And yet, as mentioned, I find most of my photographs contain some sort of composition, be it rule of thirds, symmetry, geometry (golden spiral etc). Perhaps this could be comparable to a painter knowing how to create a mixture of colours without thought - you’ve got it naturally, or you get used to it. Either way, it’s not the process that matters, it’s the product.
J : What is the purpose of your photography? For example, Is it to document? Does it act as a form of journaling? Are you trying to tell a narrative?

T : You know Joaquin, I have no idea why I take photos. There certainly is no purpose… to which I repeat myself when I discussed ‘intentions’ in the above response - there are no thoughts, just purely photographing whatever is interesting. Simply put, it just feels right to take photos.
I’m seldom happy with my photography (99% of the photos I take are useless), but you’ve given me food for thought... I wonder if I actively considered composition or purpose in the photographing stage, maybe I’ll feel less indifferent to my photos? Or maybe I’ll take ‘better’ photos more often? I don’t know… 
J : What is your main reason for DIY-ing your photos? Does this affect the final outcome of your photos?
T : I suppose control and cost are the two main reasons. With a basic understanding of how film as a medium works, came extensive opportunities to experiment and find my own style or taste. When I began to shoot film regularly, more often than not, I was disappointed by the photos I received back from a lab, and it’s fucking expensive to use a lab, man. Now, that isn’t to say it’s just the labs at fault for this: (for those who may not know) every little factor counts in the end result. The eyes, the lens, the film, the developer, the scanner, the editor, etc etc. 
I think, from my early disappointments, I figured that I was heavily restricted by using a lab. So I thought, why not perform the whole process myself? It’s taken a few years to get to a point where I’m somewhat convinced of a process that suits me, but experiments are endless. Also, say I shoot 1 roll of film, +4 its rated ISO (e.g. shooting an ISO400 film at 6400). That would cost me approx $40-50 to develop and scan, and probably a 5-7 day wait through a lab. At home, it’ll be around 40 cents and 3-4hrs of my time. Go figure.
Tokyo, Japan, 2019, Digital scan of silver gelatin print
J : Tell me about your poetry. Have you ever considered merging your photography with your poetry?
T : Poetry - something I loathed at school, and now, extremely fond of. I’m very surprised at myself for this, but it’s still pretty new to me, and it’s certainly not a form of expression that I consistently use. There used to be this monthly event in Brisbane 2-3years ago called Pearl’s Night (held at The Bearded Lady) which was basically an open mic night - anything goes sort of thing, but a fair chunk of each Pearl’s Night was poetry. I went to these nights out of interest and had no wish to write at the time, but after a couple visits I thought, ‘Hell, I can do that.’ And I’ve been writing some very blue poems ever since. Very, very blue... but fuck it. I consider it as a form of rapid expression. It helps immensely in getting anger, sadness, happiness or whatever out, fast. 
No, and I don’t wish to merge my photography with poetry. I see them as totally different mediums and I can’t see them complementing each other. Sure, my poems online or in a zine might have some of my photos alongside it, but that’s purely for ‘looks’. But perhaps in the future, this might change.
J : You mentioned that you also do event and press photography. Do you see these as separate entities or are they all part of the same practice?
T : They are definitely separate entities. The only common ground between my own and ‘commissioned’ photography is the equipment. I’m almost always indifferent when it comes to events, or press photography for bands etc, simply because it’s not about me, it’s about them. Here, lies purpose, intentions, thoughts on composition, etc, that I disregard in my own photography. The objective is to portray the individual/group/event the way they want to be portrayed, or, the way they simply are. I’m merely a tool at work on these occasions.
Beachmere, 2019, Digital scan of silver gelatin print
J : What photo are you are most proud of and why? Is there a story behind this?
T : I suppose I’m most proud of this photo I took at a music festival a couple years ago. Not much of a story to it - I just thought it was interesting to see a pack of dogs playing in the middle of a small festival. But I knew, as soon as I saw the particular negative freshly developed and held up towards a ceiling light, that it was special. The main foreground chair is sitting approximately at a third (rule of thirds), the contrast between the foreground chair and dog is nice n strong, the blur hints playfulness of the dogs, and there is somewhat of a golden spiral  - following the positioning of the white chairs, leading to the curvature of the black dog’s tail. These aren’t things I considered when taking the photo, it just happened to be. I think, if I had been thinking too much about the positioning, contrast, blur, etc, I probably would’ve missed the shot.
J : Tell me a little bit about your experience as an emerging Meanjin based artist!
T : It’s damn tough, that’s for sure. And I say this because I’m interpreting your question as, ‘How are you doing in the arts industry in Meanjin?’ 
I only recently realised I somewhat had enough work to start branching out from my own little world. Out of curiosity, I applied for exhibitions, put some words in to see if local musicians or other creatives wanted photos etc, but man, I’m beginning to think it’s not about the work at that point.  Sure, I’m taking part in this coming Brisbane Indie Project (hell yeah!), and fortunately I’ve worked with other creatives in the area, but it’s somewhat confusing. I don’t know how other creatives feel about this, but it seems there lies great importance in selling yourself professionally, and not so much the work. I thought we were creatives? Not salespersons… a bit paradoxical really. I hope this has been echoed in the past many times over. It certainly is cruel to (forcibly…?) integrate business through all areas of life. And yet here I am, selling myself…
(speaking of… Look at me! Look at my work! Buy my prints! $1,000,000 a print!)
Near Woodford, 2020, Digital scan of silver gelatin print
J : What’s next for you? anything we should be on the lookout for?
T : Fuck, I don’t know. I guess I’ll make more prints soon. I want to shoot more 8mm/16mm film. Experiment with various film developing techniques. Something new might pop up. … who knows.
Thanks to Tom Schulte and Joaquin Gonzales! 
Follow our ongoing artist interview series 'Behind Every Door'.
Come see Tom's work at the Brisbane 'Winter' Indie Project
August 13, 2021 6PM
The Zoo (711 Ann St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006)
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TOM BELOW!
Find out more about Joaquin below!
This interview was created in collaboration with the Brisbane Indie Project. Check them out below!
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