Byron Spencer, aka Spencer not Spencer has built an incredibly successful career through his unique taste and quirky eye. Capturing the likes of Emily Ratajkowski and Troye Sivan, the Sydney photographer has become synonymous in the creative scene for his playful approach to celebrity, fashion and street style work. Hailing from the small but beautiful country town of Armidale, NSW, Spencer has always proved to be creative.
Studying musical theatre as well as the flute, the elusive yet just as intriguing character has written for the likes of The Sun Herald and Grazia, before moving to the global stage of fashion photography. Working for the likes of Vogue Italia, iD and Nylon, Spencer has cemented his position in creative photography.
Now, as we gear up for the annual Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, we have commissioned the photographer for a very special project. But before the creative can unleash what he describes as “brain vomit” to art and fashion enthusiasts, we caught up with the photographer to learn more about the man behind an impressive portfolio.
ICON: Firstly, tell me about your early career. How did you find yourself working for the likes of The Sun Herald and Grazia – was there a defining moment?
Byron Spencer: “I was so excited when I got that Sun Herald job, it was a real defining moment for me. Street style was such an important chapter of my photographic life. I did it for Grazia too, and I was given the opportunity to write which I love. I just loved it because I got to meet such an array of characters. It also really helped with my confidence, as a person, but also photographically. You never wanted to take up too much of someone’s time so I would have to think very on the spot in terms of “where would this image look good, what’s the light doing”.”
Your work is quite sensual but equally light-hearted. Does this reflect you as a person?
“Hahaha. What a spot on question. Yes. LOL.”
Is there something most people don’t know about you, that drives your creativity or ethos?
“A lot of people know, but [also] a lot of people don’t [know], but I studied musical theatre and I am a flautist.”
With the age of social media, the creative industry is seeing a major shift. What do you do to stand out?
“I just keep producing content, which is something I find quite natural to do so it’s fun.”
You’ve worked with Troye Sivan and Em Rata. Is there an interesting experience or story you have from a celebrity shoot?
“I actually had to shoot Kelly Cutrone once for Grazia years ago. And my friend, who is a spiritual healer asked me very sincerely if I could take Kelly a note he had written that was in an envelope. He was very reassuring that “she will understand”. I felt completely unprofessional and very nervous, in fact when I was shooting her portraits all I could think of was “sh*t, how am I going to give kelly this note without looking like a complete freak”.”
“After we shot, I explained [that] my friend, who is a clairvoyant, wrote this note… She cut me off and said “where is it, show me!”. She read whatever it said and asked if she could immediately talk to him on the phone. I rang, they talked. They are really good friends now still to this day.”
Is there anything you look for when deciding to work with a brand or person?
“I am pretty selective I guess, I just know what I like or what I can work with. Fashion wise I love working with brands that suit my aesthetic. People, I just know who I love and vibe on I guess and go for it!”
You’ll be working closely with Peter Simon Phillips producing the visuals for the GRAZIA and ICON show at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival this year. What can attendees expect to see of your work?
“A brain vomit!”
Working closely with the designers, how will you reflect their aesthetic through visuals?
“I will work within their world and graphics, keeping it true to them but also spinning it a little bit into something abstract!”
GRAZIA and ICON will present Runway 7 at this year’s VAMFF. To see the collaborative effort between Spencer not Spencer be sure to grab tickets. To learn more about Byron Spencer, visit his Instagram here.
WHAT: Runway 7 presented by GRAZIA + ICON (supported by Schwarzkopf at Priceline Pharmacy)
DESIGNERS: Ten Pieces, P.E. Nation, Client Liason, Double Rainbouu, Sister, Handsom and Limb styled by Peter Simon Phillips, visuals by Spencer not Spencer, music by Jonny Seymour.
WHERE: Showroom 1, Royal Exhibition Building, 9 Nicholson Street, Carlton North
WHEN: 8:30-9:15pm, Saturday 9 March, 2019
BUY TICKETS: HERE
Show tickets include entry to the official Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival after party, presented by GRAZIA and ICON at Bond Nightclub, Saturday 9th March from 9.30pm