You’re a bricklayer, or a joiner, sitting about on a freezing building site in January thinking to yourself “there must be more to life, to the world, than this”. The trouble is, you haven’t got any money to see any of it. You hatch a bold, some might say foolhardy plan: to work your way around the world, trading your useful skills for food, shelter and transport.
Imagine the same scheme, but substitute the construction know-how with photography skills. Not to demean photography as a profession, but one would think slightly less practically marketable. However, that’s the scenario Australian lensman Shantanu Starick built for himself when he took a leap of faith and set out to see how far his camera could get him with his Pixel Trade project…
Each person Starick trades with agrees to keep him alive and send him on his way with another trade lined up, but some of the deals involve extra necessities like clothes and even luxuries such as editing software. As much an exercise in photography as it is an examination of the viability of the bartering way of life, he spends enough time with each client to thoroughly explore the task at hand, from portraits to architecture, videos to wedding shots – you name it.
Beginning with a portrait job for a musician, he has run the gamut of possibilities for a jobbing photographer willing to turn their hand to anything. Art projects, modelling assignments and publicity shots for businesses have all kept Starick personally afloat and professionally absorbed, always on the move – initially across Australia and then Tasmania – continually adding to a portfolio of work that must be among the most varied out there.
Four months and 35 trades in, Starick is moving on to North America, from Los Angeles to New York, and through his website potential traders are able to track his movements and get in touch to snag a day or four of his time. We highly recommend you check out his site as it also carries a comprehensive photographic record of his journey so far – more so than we can fit in on We Heart. What shouldn’t be overlooked amid all this travelling and trading malarkey is the immense talent Starick has for photography. Whatever the clients are trading, they are getting a damn good deal.