Artist Feature: Peter Bower

by Peter Bower

This image was taken for the Canon Photo5 competition in Australia. We were given five different briefs to photograph with one of the tasks to take a black and white photo capturing smoke.

When I read this, I instantly knew I wanted to do an image like this, capturing a noir-esque tone with an older gentleman smoking. My next-door neighbour was the perfect subject for my image. Then I got word that the smoke had to be created by incense. My idea was ruined. I couldn’t take a photograph of a smoker without the cigarette. My neighbour told me not to fret, that I would come up with a way to get around it and, as I watched him roll his cigarette, I figured that it didn’t need to be a real cigarette in his hand.

We rolled two sticks of incense (with a small amount of tabacco around them to get the round shape) in cigarette paper, and proceeded to shoot. At first, I was having troubles capturing the thin streams of smoke. My neighbor took it upon himself to create more smoke, burning some pinecone needles in a fish smoker, for me to practice and figure out just how to capture the smoke. Not long after, we retreated from the shed, coughing, after filling it with smoke.

Once it had cleared (and I had figured out how to capture the smoke), we tried again. One flash in a 43″ shoot through umbrella to the side, and a flash on the opposite side snooted (with a beer stubbie holder) to capture the smoke, I was extremely pleased with this image. And, naturally, the beers that we shared after went down pretty well.

Peter Bower is 26 years old, a published poet, writer and essayist and, while he usually uses words, he likes to take photographs. He writes for He is also completing his Masters at the University of Newcastle, Australia, writing a novel that examines pub culture, masculinity and social interaction. You can see more of his work at He has also decided to continue to the series, which can be viewed in his Flickr stream.


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