Before anything else, photographer Pete Dillon likes to figure out the “why” of the shot. This consideration and attention to detail is obvious when you look at his photos: smoke-covered mountains, eerily abandoned playgrounds, a moment of stillness in a bustling restaurant kitchen.
It’s just one of the reasons his work is featured in Broadsheet Editions, a new platform that celebrates Broadsheet’s photos – and the photographers behind them. For the first time ever, large-scale prints of our photographs are available to purchase and hang on your wall. The online store is now open, if you fancy a browse.
We talked to Dillon about taking photos in the middle of a bushfire and being able to “pay your bills with a camera”.
What kind of work do you do?
I’m a culinary and editorial photographer shooting across Victoria and now in Sydney too. I work with brands, restaurants and publications to produce visual stories that cover anything from new menus to kitchens and the chefs who work in them.
How long have you been a photographer?
I think for a lot of shooters that’s a tricky question. I distinctly remember my dad giving me his Nikon F3 and I’d take pictures with it out the car window when I was maybe 10? I’ve been shooting part-time for about 12 years, and for the last five years have done nothing but. It’s pretty cool being able to pay your bills with a camera. For me, my professional photography is almost entirely in restaurants and bars, while my personal work is in the mountains or a forest somewhere.
Tell us about this photo.
Klamath is one of those personal works that I try to shoot when I get the time to travel, which sadly isn’t too often these days, so I really try to make the most of it when I can. When I shoot landscapes, I’m a total sucker for simplicity, symmetry and a limited colour palette, so when all three line up, you can’t help but make the picture.
Where was it taken?
About a half hour north of the California-Oregon border, there’s a little town named Klamath Falls. It sits on the shore of Lake Klamath, which winds its way through mountains and fields in southern Oregon, and it has access to one of the only roads north to the incredibly spectacular Crater Lake National Park. This was photographed on that road, facing west towards Mount McLoughlin.
The 2017 wildfires in Oregon and California were particularly bad, with smoke cover across massive swathes of the states, blocking out the sun and turning everything a dirty yellow. I’d just spent three hours waiting out the smoke at Crater Lake National Park, but as is the way with landscape photography, you’re at the mercy of the elements. So this image is actually one of the only keepers from that day, and was [taken] on the return leg of what had been a failed outing. I remember seeing this scene unfold and doing a U-turn to come back for it.
What feeling does it evoke for you when you look at it?
A mix really. The Pacific Northwest around Oregon is my favourite place in the world, and for the first time seeing it literally on fire and disappearing was heartbreaking, but a reality of our changing climate. On the other hand, it’s also a really calm scene, with the mountains disappearing into the smoke and nothing busy or chaotic in the frame.
Why did you select this image to discuss?
I got over saying, “Well actually, it’s smoke.” No, I kid. I think it’s got an interesting story behind it, and it’s different from my editorial and food photography.
How did you select your works for Broadsheet Editions?
I wanted to find a balance of the work I’ve shot for Broadsheet and some of my personal works. For the culinary images, I settled on a number of prints that would work inside the lounge or dining room of someone who might’ve dined at the same restaurant, or is maybe a food-lover and enjoys all aspects of the restaurant world. The landscapes on the other hand are simple, bold and have very particular colours, so they’re intended to complement someone’s well-thought-out living spaces.
When did you shoot your first image for Broadsheet?
I started shooting for Broadsheet in 2016, and my very first shoot was a then-newly-opened cafe in my home suburb of Kensington called Noughts and Crosses. It’s a great little find, just up from the famous Laksa King. It’s a light-filled cafe with a menu that punches way above its weight, and one of the only good batch brews in the inner west. Say hi to Luke for me.
Tell us about your approach to photography.
At the heart of it, a professional photographer is a problem solver as much as they are a visual artist. Whenever I’m working with a client, it’s important to go beyond the shot list and find out the “why” behind the shoot, campaign or story. I really enjoy discussing the background of the restaurant or what’s important in a dish with the chef. It’s often in those conversations that the real purpose and intent of what we’re making becomes clear.