People & Place

Left Field

Ben Clement is a Melbourne-based photographic artist, originally hailing from New Zealand. His specialty is ‘leftfield’ portraiture and fashion photography, shooting a mixture of subjects and genres with an engaging, curious and honest view. Between working across commissions and his own personal and collaborative projects, Ben’s always roaming with one or two cameras in hand.

“I am currently inspired and influenced by David Brandon, Nicolas Coloumb, Thomas Prior, Tyrone LeBon, Dakota Gordon, Zara Mirkin & Henrik Purienne. But mostly, it’s the conversations with my creative friends that bring me to my best work.

Working with analogue more intently over the past two years has really helped develop my eye across all my work, it slows me down to think about the subject and background a lot more. There is an emotional difference when using analogue, you see people’s faces change when you photograph them with that certain type of camera, compared to the ‘ease’ of digital. It has definitely helped me discover the importance of emotion and connection with my subject.

I’m drawn to using 35mm, because of the steps you have to take to get an image: choosing film, the camera, picking the subject and light and onwards to developing and scanning. It is extremely nerve-wracking and satisfying. You can shoot the same portrait with a phone, a digital SLR and 35mm camera and they will all give off a different look. On the flipside, shooting analogue has made me fall in love with digital again, the endless options, how far you can push the camera and the interesting looks you can achieve.

The image of the ladder going into the pool was an ‘out of routine’ situation for me. On tour with a band from New York, we were in quite a nice hotel in Sydney (abnormal situation!) and it was an amazing summers day, a day off for the band so we spent it by the pool. I can’t sit still for too long so after taking a quick dip I photographed everything on the rooftop.

This photograph was taken in New York late last year, a portrait of my good friend Spencer from L.A. I just really love this shot because Spencer looks like the Statue of Liberty – an accident. But a reminder of time spent in New York. Definitely, New York has been my favorite city to photograph, purely because each time I have been there, I have been so overcome with excitement with the richness of subject matter – I think because of the city’s environment and fast-paced work style. But if I was to pick one country, New Zealand has to be the best place to photograph.

This portrait of Brooks Atwood (a New York-based architect/designer) was taken at Ian Potter Centre in Melbourne. He had such a loud and vibrant personality you could spot him or hear him from a mile away. I decided the shot of him where he is turned away resonates with me and the time I spent with him. I’m always looking for something leftfield, something out of the ordinary. It could be a slight movement of the hand or a twist of the neck. I’m fairly curious, so when I walk around, I look for things that pop out and catch my eye. I like to be a fly on the wall, so a lot of my ‘street’ and ‘lifestyle’ work is reflective of that.

When it comes to print, there is nothing better than seeing one of your images printed in a good publication or on a good stock you have spent time choosing. It’s something else, seeing how your image comes up in print compared to onscreen – at times, you are pleasantly or sadly surprised. It makes you appreciate your work a lot more, as well as wanting to work harder to produce better work.

Ben Clement works with a range of local and international publications, including Ala Champfest, Acclaim and Fashion Journal. Ben is also a member of local photography collective, Hard Workers Club. To view more of Ben Clement’s photographs, visit