We had the good fortune of connecting with Thomas McKinnon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thomas, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
It took me a long time to realize just how truly important a solid work/life balance truly is. It can be really easy to find yourself trapped in two differing mentalities: First, you can commit to fully to the ‘work’ aspect and find yourself constantly overworked, losing friendships and making no memories. Or secondly; you can slide too far down into the ‘life’ portion of it and get nothing done, make no professional progress and stagnate your creativity.
Like I said, it took me a lot of failure to realize this, and nowadays I find myself constantly adjusting and changing my Work/Life balance to better suit my ever changing life. I think about it all the time, because I’m constantly accepting new gigs, or trying new film techniques etc.
I think it’s good to think about it as often as you can, but it should be something you do more subconsciously. Not something that you think about so often it causes anxiety. It’s all about finding that balance that works naturally for you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What I believe separates my art from others is how I approach it. A lot of photographers, cinematographers and digital artists believe that what makes them special is that their art is “unique” or “original”. For example, the majority of the cinematographer’s that I know, believe that they are chosen because of what THEY bring to THEIR art. I believe in achieving the DIRCTOR’S art by incorporating my skillset to their individual needs. For me, my art isn’t special because it’s “unique”. It’s special because it’s mine.
I’m pretty proud of everything that I’ve shot. Whether that be a short film or a photoshoot, I don’t really look back on my early work as awful or anything, I rather like seeing how far I’ve come! Which isn’t to say it was easy… Because wow, it was not.
I bought all of my equipment myself. Those thousand dollar Cine lenses I shot on? I bought those. Tripods and stabilization kits? Bought those too. It’s been a long and hard road to get even this far, but I’m proud of far I’ve gotten so far.
I hope that fills people with confidence, and I hope that it shows my dedication to perfecting my craft and creating something unique for anyone that comes my way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a pretty firm believer in finding places that people don’t really talk about.
I grew up all over the world, experienced a lot and as an adult I learned to really enjoy just exploring places and discovering restaurants, bars and activities that I had never heard of. So if my best friend were visiting, that’s how I would approach it. I’d say “let’s just wander around downtown and experience whatever we want to experience”. It tends to work out pretty well.
I would say in my experience, so far that is, that the most fun places are either places that are lost to time (like the abandoned State park in Creede CO, check it out) or places that just have no discernible presence. I don’t know how much sense that makes haha.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh man… There’s so many people and inspirations that I think deserve a shoutout… But if I’m going to have to be particular, there’s four people in particular:
First of all, my parents. Both my mother and my father are massive inspirations in my life. They pushed me to pursue my creativity and to continue pushing for what I WANT to do and not what other people pressure you to do. Both of them are role models to me and they deserve the utmost respect I have for them.
Secondly, Mason Aksamit. You constantly pushed me to improve my writing, constantly pushed me to improve my cinematography all while providing me with some of the funniest memories I think I’ve ever experienced in my life. Thank you Mason.
Lastly, my friends Josh, John, Alex, Reid, Sam, Tanner, Brayden, Dustin, Chris and yes, even you Brett. Thank you for supporting me and providing me both the criticism I deserve, and the adulation I hope to deserve someday!
The last image of myself standing with the camera: Reid Sanders All other images/illustrations are my own. I edited, shot and released them.