A short Q&A with Robert Timothy which explains his photographic philosophy and practice.
Model above: Matt Law, Nevs (London)
I’ve completed these questions to give you some insight into what I do and why I do it in the way I do.
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
Public school or state school, university or straight into work?
Saying where you were educated is now so loaded with assumptions and prejudices that I’d prefer not to say.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I’ve had so many over the years to name them all. They know who they are. They’re a mixture of people who have literally mentored me and others who I’ve learned from but who may not have known how much of a help they’ve been.
How physically fit are you?
At the moment I am telling everyone I used to have a sixpack.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
A good mixture of both. Having too much of one or the other will only take you so far nowadays.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
At school in South Africa we were constantly tested, it was the nature of the country. Everyone had to be assigned to some demographic profile or population group sadly.
Do you have more than one home?
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
Not until you mentioned it. I use public transport, I recycle, I don’t eat red meat much, which is why I don’t think about it.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
A Rolls-Royce from the 70s or 80s.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Doing nothing. Time is so precious that I used to feel guilty about wasting it. Now I will deliberately take time for an afternoon, for example, to do absolutely nothing and it’s such a treat.
In what place are you happiest?
In the sunshine with friends in Cape Town.
What ambitions do you still have?
Too many to mention which is why I constantly feel like I don’t have the time to realise them!
What drives you on?
When I look at photos I took years ago, I see faults and imperfections. Being able to see how you’ve improved is a huge motivator. The photos I am going to be taking in the years to come are the ones I am most excited about, whatever they may be.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
All of the times I’ve done instead of saying I was going to do.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
In 2003 I had the chance to book a flight on Concorde and didn’t take it. I wish I had experienced what it was like. In a way I am thankful that the biggest regret of my life has been that I didn’t get to fly on a certain aircraft. Of course it wasn’t just any plane but…
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Start new and not try to rebuild what I had.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Generally I think people should be the ones who make decisions about their lives, not governments.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Head says no, heart wants to say yes.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I’d rate it a six and then I’d be told to stop being so bloody negative, so it’s probably an 8.