art / interview

Seeing the unseen

Interview and words by Yu Ye Wu

Derby’s Dad? Photo by Garry Trinh (2012) Courtesy of the artist.

I first met photographer extraordinaire Garry Trinh a couple of years ago but I feel I only really got to know him through perusing his street photography blog Unseen Magazine where his often light hearted and comic photographs shot on the streets of Sydney show patterns, shadows, strange compositions and friends at art openings as its unique subject matter. The snaps have in the past been the result of hourly long walks across town and offer a way of seeing the world which reminds us “it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”.

Tell us about yourself in 2 sentences.
My art friends think I’m a photographer. My photography friends think I’m an artist.

What spurred you to first go on your walks and capture things on the street?
Documenting graffiti on walls with my camera and exploring cities overseas is where I discovered taking a camera for a walk can be one of the most rewarding things in life.

What is the longest walk you have completed and what was the route?
It began first with exploring overseas places that I was visiting for the first time. Now I go to the most boring places that I can think of and try to uncover it’s uniqueness. I think the longest walking trip was the one I did in Paris ten years ago. I was circling the entire city on foot during my first day there because I was so excited to be in Paris. I wanted to see it all right away. I then got blisters on my foot and couldn’t walk the next day.

Your photos capture things we’d blink and miss- those moments most of us wish we had a camera to capture it with. Is it an intuition you pick up? How do you know when you have struck gold?
I learn from experience. I miss photographing those moments like everyone else. I just never forget that I missed getting that picture so when those moments come around again I’m prepared. I worked as a graphic designer and that has help me with composition. I know I’ve taken an interesting photograph when I feel like I need to share the photograph with someone the instant I took it.

Over the years I have been following your work, there has been a prevailing sense of humour and positive outlook at life which I think reveals something of your character. Where do think this stems from?
Good parenting. My parents raised me well. They are to blame for my humour and positive outlook at life.

You seem like an avid collector of books, CDs, DVDs judging by some of your blog posts. Tell us some of your favourites and the story of how you discovered or came across certain items you had to have in your current collection.
I won’t describe myself as a collector. Storage space is an issue. I’m interested in the creative process so I have a lot of materials concerning the artistic process of photographers and artists. I think timing has a lot to do with what I collect. I’m usually attracted to things that shed clarity on what I’m going through or have just experienced. It’s the best time to learn. I think all photographers are collectors. We just collect moments rather than things.

You’ve said that in the past year you have been focusing on exhibitions and some of them have been quite creative such as the project for the 1.85 million Peripheries exhibition where you printed photographs from various types of printers onto various paper textures. What can we expect to see from you this year ? How does your thinking process about exhibiting evolve out of your photography?
The rest of this year I am exhibiting less. Organising exhibitions takes up a lot of my time. I don’t think about how I’m going to show work, I do the work first then let the photographs and exhibition space tell me how it should be shown.

Lastly If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party who would you pick?
Tori Amos, Mark Gonzales, Tibor Kalman, the Dalai Lama and my mum.

Garry’s latest exhibition is on until May 26 at Art Atrium, Sydney.