December 13th, 2017
One of the most spectacular talents that photographer Peter Lusztyk has is the ability to take photographs of everyday ordinary objects and make you see them in a completely different way you never thought of before. His aerial view of highways are breathtaking. The concrete, asphalt, shadows and lines painted on the road all look completely different from this unique perspective that Peter is a master at showing. It doesn’t stop there as Peter does not limit himself to a single style, and shoots portraits and commercial photography as well. I especially love how his work pushes the viewer to see everything in a way they never thought possible.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised Beacon Hill, Ottawa. Same hood as Tom Green. I’ve lived in Toronto since 2001.
How did you get started in photography?
I always liked visual arts. My first thing was video editing when I was still in high school. I transitioned into photo because I got hooked up with some pro photographers that were willing to take me under their wing pretty early on.
What is your preferred style of photography to shoot?
I don’t know that I have a specific style. I seem to just gravitate to things I find visually stimulating. Shooting commercially over the years you kind of learn to be able to shoot everything. You don’t always get to choose what you want to shoot.
What are the challenges or differences between shooting people, landscapes or other objects?
I’m not sure how to answer that beyond the obvious. Shooting people sucks if they don’t want to be there getting their picture taken. I try to avoid that situation as much as possible. Sometimes you have to do it anyway and then it’s an exercise in making it as painless as possible. Shooting mountains and handguns, that issue doesn’t come up.
If you were a dinosaur what kind would you be and why?
Brontosaurus because I love the Sinclair Oil logo.
How do you frame your shots? Is it done with editing afterwards or do you try to frame it perfectly when shooting?
You try to get it perfect in-camera but it doesn’t always work out especially if you’re rushed so sometimes you have to crop and straighten stuff up in post.
What equipment do you use and why?
I go with the highest megapixel DSLR on the market. Canon or Nikon doesn’t matter. I do that because I like to print my work big, so megapixels make a difference.
How has photography changed from when you first stated to now?
Well, there was no Instagram, no camera phones; digital was still very new. It was totally different. People weren’t really buying nearly as much photo-based art to decorate with. Now thankfully it seems like it’s really caught on.
If I'm not mistaken, the Uncanny Valley series was kind of a street art project with the pieces being displayed around Toronto. How did that series come to be and what was the goal?
To really simplify the concept I’d say that Uncanny Valley means that people are creeped out when they realize that what they are looking at is a replica of a human and not a real human. Like the feeling you get when you see a mannequin out of the corner of your eye and think it’s someone actually standing there until you turn around. So I shot these portraits of wax sculptures of famous people in Vegas and then put them up around town in billboards. People thought they were real. It worked.
How long does a shoot usually take when shooting for Molson, for instance?
It really depends. If clients are there sometimes they like being away from the office for the day so we have coffee and lunch. Make a full day of it. It obviously also depends how many separate products we are shooting.
Did you go to school for photography or are you self-taught?
I went to school for Communications at U of T. I took two photo courses while I was there. After school I worked as an assistant and learned a lot that way.
What company would you like to work for that you haven't yet? Why?
That’s a good question. Something aerospace. Boeing? Raytheon? I really love that stuff and I think it fits my aesthetic. Oh, and Herman Miller. I love their furniture.
How would you describe your creative process?
I normally get ideas from reading the news. Doing deep dives on Wikipedia. Finding out about something that is fascinating to me then figuring out how I would express that photographically.
What's piece of advice would you give to a photographer starting out?
Don’t be afraid to take chances and don’t over think it. Don’t do what everyone else is doing on Instagram.
Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?
Fudgee-O hands down.