Jamie Richards, founder of the eco-savvy clothing brand, Good Shirt, chats to us about surfing and sustainability discussing the creation of his company and his passion for outdoor adventure, looking after our planet, and his two-phase photography journey.
Jamie, what makes you tick?
Like many kiwis, the great outdoors and nature have always featured large in my life. My favourite sports since school days have been surfing and skiing, so you kinda take that nature buzz that comes with getting amongst it in the outdoors, add in a bit of adrenaline and boom !!! It really is quite an intoxicating blend. When you add in sharing these experiences with friends and family it’s pretty addictive, as a result I’ve been lucky enough to travel around NZ and various other parts of the world to get my fill of ocean/mountain fueled adventures.
How did your photography journey begin? My photography journey can pretty much be split into two phases with the 1st phase kicking off in Whangarei around 1988 when I bought a Nikonos underwater camera to shoot the surf missions my mates and I were going on. What seemed like a great idea at the time, was a bit of a fail. The Rolls Royce like build of the Nikonos was awesome, as was the image quality, but for surf photography I found the Nikonos was pretty tricky to use in the surf given the super basic viewfinder setup which was on top of the camera body and not through the lens. This made it really difficult to compose a good surf shot while bobbing around in the ocean, so I pretty much found out the hard way that the Nikonos is better suited to shooting dive photos than surf photos ;) After persisting with the Nikonos for a while I sold it on and bought a replacement which was a Nikon 801s plus a couple of lenses, tripod etc. This had no underwater capability but suited what I got stuck into next, that old kiwi classic, the OE.
While traveling I was shooting mostly on Slide film (Kodachrome 64 and Veliva 50) so whilst I was really enjoying photography, my enthusiasm was tempered by the ongoing film/ processing costs of it all so I ended up putting my camera down & photography as a hobby went by the wayside as I got busy with work and family. Funnily enough though, after sitting on a shelf for the better part of 20 years, my eldest daughter is now using my old Nikon 801s, going old school shooting on film as well as digital. In the here and now, I've recently gotten back into photography, so phase 2 of my photo journey I guess. This was pretty much instigated due to developing Good Shirt as a brand and the many plusses that came with picking up a camera again for work and play. Since I’d last bought a quality camera there’s been a “D” thrown in front of the "SLR” and I’m so stoked on the digital revolution. For me the cost of slide film is now thankfully only a distant memory, and while the basics of photography haven’t really changed, the compact nature and flexibility of camera gear that’s available now definitely has. After a bit of research I decided on a Sony @6300 Mirrorless camera and a couple of Sony lenses. While the @6300 is at the mid-lower end of Sony’s range, overall I’m happy enough with the quality of photos and video I’m able to get with this camera. I’ve learnt more about photography/ videography in the past two years than I ever knew during phase 1 of my photographic journey. That said I still feel like I’m just scraping the surface of what there is to learn, so I’m constantly looking at ways to get the best out of my camera gear and improve on my technical and artistic abilities behind the lens.
Tell us about your clothing brand…
“Good Shirt” is an eco-savvy brand that has come about due to a personal desire to get on the right side of history with regard to the kind of impact we’re having on the natural world. The clothing industry is one of the largest polluters on the planet, and when looking at the number of clothing companies that shamelessly play a part in the polluting of our planet I decided to develop an eco-minded/ sustainable company and brand that makes a conscious effort in restoring the balance, by helping to reduce the negative impact the clothing industry is having on the environment. Surfing/diving around Indonesia over the past 20 years I’ve seen first hand a massive increase in the amount of plastic waste that’s finding it’s way into the world’s oceans, indiscriminately killing marine and birdlife, and as a result plastic has now embedded itself into the food chain. As a direct result I’ve developed a distinct dislike for single use plastics and the havoc they are causing to the natural world and have become passionate about making a positive difference in this area. So there you have a bit of background on the why, with regard to the initial range of clothing / accessories we’re launching Good Shirt with, all product lines are produced from materials made incorporating Post Consumer Recycled PET Plastics. In doing so we’re able to give these single use plastics another life, and divert them from landfills or finding their way into the ocean. “Good Shirt Tees” are our core product, and while these tees have the look, feel, and casual vibe of a luxe cotton tee, they have the performance benefits of a technical sports tee. Dri-Cool moisture wicking, Quick Dry combined with an Advanced Eco-kind Antimicrobial that is formulated from recycled coffee grounds, there’s a whole lot of tech packed into a quality tee that’s made to last! The soul of the brand comes from the ongoing collaborations we have with the Collab Artists whom provide the Print Art that features on our apparel, the music that features in our videos, the collaborative product, and the ADV365, Good Shirt’s Adventurers Club that we are develop with our B2B clients and of course of course the customers that support Good Shirt. For more detail on Good Shirt those interested can check out our website www.goodshirt.co and our e-zine Good Stuff through which we’ll share all the good stuff we’re up to with collaborating artists, partner clients, CSR initiatives ….
Tell us about the collab on your tiger t-shirts...
As a sustainable brand, part of Good Shirt’s brand DNA requires that we have a duty of care to the natural world, and so the Good Shirt tees which have the Tiger and Whale Shark Tee Print Art are part of our CSR efforts in this area, with both of these images supplied by Collab Artist Paul Hilton. Paul's a Photo Journalist / Eco Warrior whom has had a massive positive impact for various species of wildlife as a result of his work, hence the reason for me to reach out to Paul and see of what assistance we (Good Shirt) could be, if any? You may be familiar with Paul Hilton through the Oceanic Preservation Society’s movie "Racing Extinction" https://racingextinction.com/film/ , Racing Extinction is where I first saw Paul’s work, and was blown away by this movie, really taking to heart OPS's/ Racing Extinction’s mantra #StartWithOneThing. This Collab with Paul and Good Shirt will see a generous percentage of the profits generated from the sale of these tees to help with the funding of GPS collars for Sumatran Elephants in the Leuser Ecosystem, and the patrollers whom monitor these Sumatran Elephants. Basically due to the loss of much of their natural habitat in the Leuser Ecosystem a result of large scale industrial development for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations and mining. Not only is the entire ecosystem threatened but in losing much of there natural habitat the Sumatran Elephants now face increased human - wildlife conflict and so these GPS collars used to mitigate this conflict. To read more about this initiative, and Paul’s great work you can find an article in Good Shirt’s e-zine “Good Stuff” https://issuu.com/goodshirt.co/docs/good_stuff_issue_no.1/88
Why did you choose Excio as a way to promote your business?
Truth be told I didn’t really choose Excio as a way to promote my business, I simply liked the app, and Excio’s associated website so first became an Excio member more on a personal basis. That said, being a typical small start up brand, I’m always looking for opportunities to get Good Shirt in front of potential customers, and Excio certainly does that, and in such a nice way. I really like the way in which Excio works on my mobile, some of the images that appear on the screensaver/ background are truly amazing and can make for a nice surprise when picking up your phone. The Excio app is so refreshing versus social media channels like Facebook/ Instagram - with Excio I’m not getting bombarded with advertising nor being followed/unfollowed by hordes of disingenuous people trying to become an Influencer or whatever their masterplan is! The digital ecosystem of the Excio app, the Excio website plus the NZ Photographer e-zine brings a combined offering that really seems to embody a community spirit that many Instagrammers talk about though is rarely seen in practice these days, so yeah as you can tell I’m a fan!
Tell us what it's like travelling around Indonesia...
Indonesia is such a crazy place, both crazy good and crazy bad. There are plenty of beautiful spots in Indonesia that make it a photographers dream, though due to the logistics of getting around Indonesia the journey to these spots can also be a bit of a nightmare. As a developing nation Indonesia's infrastructure is far behind that which we take for granted in NZ. To give you a basic comparison, driving 180km in NZ say Auckland to Whangarei would normally take around 2hrs, a journey of the same length in Indonesia would generally take around 5-7hrs. So when it comes to hitting the road for surf trips, our go to is leaving in the middle of the night to avoid traffic so that we can shave an hour or more off even the best travel time when done during daylight hours. On the plus side, Indonesia is home to some of the best waves on the planet, in some of the most stunning locations and with super consistent swell & trade winds the reward for making the early morning effort well worth it :) Purely looking at the photo opportunities, being such a vast archipelago Indonesia is a very bio diverse country that includes Tropical Rainforests, Waterfalls, Volcanoes, Coral Reefs …….. so there's ample subject matter for nature and landscape photographers prepared too invest the time. I could definitely spend more time photographing Indonesia’s sights, and even though I include photography/ videography as part of my varied workload, photography is still primarily a hobby for me, and for the most part my camera comes along for the ride on our adventures rather than dictating where I go.
How about back home in NZ, where’s your favourite place to take photos?
I don’t really have a favourite place in NZ to take photos, whether in the backyard, on the coast up a mountain or anywhere in-between it’s all good!
I do have a favourite time to take photos though, I really love getting up before sunrise, arriving at a spot to take photos before first light (I’ve likely scoped out the location beforehand) plus I use the PhotoPills app to tune in to the area with regard to the time of blue hour/ sunrise, the position of the sun … then as long as Mother Nature joins the party, in a good way, it’s on! I love shooting long exposures at sunrise, some great results with the bonus that it means you also get time away from the camera to fully enjoy the sounds & morning light-show that daybreak brings, for sure a great start to any day! Holiday’s are classic for this, I'm up and out the door early to take pics, and can be back from shooting, and on to my second coffee often before the rest of the family’s even out of bed.
What are your plans for the future both business and photography related?
Plans for business include growing the Good Shirt brand internationally, so I'm putting loads of effort into that just now and going forward. In addition, together with some friends/ associates I’m currently looking at an opportunity within the housing sector which is using leading edge tech to produce flatpack housing made using both recycled plastic composites and bamboo composites. This housing, as with Good Shirt, diverts plastics from Landfills and Oceans so we are able to further reduce our impact on the Natural World, though of course a house will suck up a lot more recycled plastics than a tee shirt. So that could turn out to be something pretty amazing although there is still a lot of work to be done! With regard to my photography, I’ll just keep working on expanding my skill set moving into different genres of photography/videography.
While content creation is one of the roles I've taken on with Good Shirt, I'm loving the creative challenge so I’ll pretty much just keep enjoying the moments when things come together to create those next level shots that evoke emotion and memories for both those who view my work and myself.
You can find Jamie's collections here.