Interview with Tey Vandenberg

Originally from Karratha in WA’s north west, Animator & photographer Tey Vandenberg has recently returned to Australia after a world trip which included Japan, North America, South America and London.

You have just returned to Australia after a 7 month world trip which took you to Japan, Canada and South America amongst other places. How was this experience?
What can you say, It was an awesome experience.  Japan and Canada had some great cities and I’ll definitely be back, but it was South America where my travels and adventures were far greater than I was expecting.  Such a diverse continent, glacial peaks, high-altitude deserts, and the rainforests of the Amazon, it really has some amazing landscapes. I couldn’t imagine traveling without a camera, with so many opportunities to capture the local atmosphere.

What equipment did you use to take your photos?
I have an old Canon 350D, just an entry level DSLR. It was good travelling with a camera that was a bit used and abused; I wasnít so precious while travelling. I also had a couple of lenses:
-   Canon EF 50mm f/1.8,
-   Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 L
-   Sigma 10-20mm F/4.0 – 5.6

Made for a pretty heavy day pack. My favourite would have to be the 50mm, for such a cheap lens it captures some sharp images, and was easy to pull out in a crowded market if you didn’t want to draw attention and capture a more natural shot.

A lot of your photos your subjects are unaware they are being photographed. How did you achieve this?
I would almost always take a few images off the cuff while using the 10-20mm wide angle without looking though the viewfinder. Then take a few more conventional shots once it felt like the locals were comfortable with the presence of the camera. I had a few incidents where I was chased down or abused by locals for taking photos, which is always fun.

You do a certain amount of post work on your photos. What do you use and how do you achieve the treatments you use?
I used to treat photos purely in Photoshop but recently I have moved on to Adobe Lightroom and found it to be quicker and easier to get photos treated and organized. Especially useful while traveling and sorting through hundreds of photos a day.  It uses many of the features found when altering RAW files in Photoshop with a few extra color and sharpening adjustment settings. The ability to add / create presets and have them readily available in the left side panel is also extremely handy, especially as a starting point for treating a group of similarly exposed photos.

In 2006 you and a few friends snuck into an abandoned Sydney underground train station to go on a photo shoot. How did this come about?
I’ve always had a fascination with abandoned and decayed buildings / structures, and with a few friends started exploring buildings in and around Sydney. From here a friend told me about the Cave Clan and we started exploring drains / structures around Sydney with the Clan as guides.  We then heard from a few people about an unused underground station, after doing some research online. Decided to explore the area and it was just by luck we found a way in as the whole thing was gated up.

Where do you find inspiration?
Main inspiration lately has been traveling and meeting new people. But Hanging out with friends and seeing what projects they’re working on always inspires.  Other than that, inspiration would come from anywhere, recently “the fall“, a new film by Tarsem Singh his composition and use of color inspired me to get out and take photos. Although it’s just a fun hobby at the moment, so I don’t really take it too seriously.

Online folio –
Flickr –

submit a comment