Jae Nelson, by Kian West / by Kian West

OUR HARDCORE FANS MIGHT REMEMBER THE ‘THIS IS NEWCASTLE’ VIDEO THAT APPEARED EARLIER THIS YEAR IN CELEBRATION OF US HITTING FOUR YEARS IN PUBLICATION. THAT WAS THANKS TO JAE NELSON OF LITTLE RUBY. TALENTED VISUAL ARTIST THAT HE IS, HE ALSO HOOKED US UP WITH SOME PHOTOS FOR OUR 2018 CALENDAR.

Jae Nelson Little Ruby Visual

Interview: Jae Nelson

By Kian West

I sat down at the bench in Suspension Espresso overlooking Beaumont Street one morning to chat about Jae’s business, influencers, love of the Boston Celtics and plans for the new year…

Some people might know you as Little Ruby. If you’re at a party and someone asks you a bit about yourself, how do you explain what you do?

I try to avoid that question, to be completely honest. And as I've gotten older, you know that whole Seinfeld thing where he's like, ‘I don't want any more friends. I hate the friends I've got. We don't need any more.’ That type of thing? It's like all the people that hang out at parties already probably know what I do anyway, so I don't really have to do it.

But just say it was someone that I didn't know, it actually is really hard because you don't want to seem really wanky and be like, ‘I'm a filmmaker.’ You know what I mean? And because of how accessible gear is now, any Tom, Dick and Harry can save a bit of cash, get a decent camera and go, ‘I'm a freelance photographer, I'm a da-da-da, I'm a this, I'm a that.’ As I said, it's a hard thing to say to people because you don't want to be roped into that realm.

I'm not saying I wasn't that as well. Like, I started somewhere too, so I had to make a decision: ‘Okay, I'm going to go buy some gear and I'm going to...’ But the thing is, it's the mindset behind it I guess, for me.

I know this is slightly going off-topic, but I went and bought stuff and I didn't know a lot about photography or videomaking and stuff like that, but I knew that I really enjoyed it and I liked it. So, it was like, OK cool, let's get some education happening, let's learn some stuff, let's know what I'm doing and let's go out and shoot.

I still feel weird about calling myself a photographer or a guy who makes videos and stuff because I know that I only scratch the tip of the iceberg and I'm just doing what I think looks good, and that's the only sort of reference point I've got. ‘Cool, I think that looks cool, I'm going to post that’, or ‘I'm going to show people that’, or ‘I'm going to give that back to the client like that’, rather than giving myself this, ‘I'm a filmmaker’ or ‘I'm this and I'm that and I'm this ra-ra’.

I guess the one thing that I've learned, and the title I guess I use, is content creator – which I hate. I hate that. It's just such a throw-around term now and so many people use it, but it really does kind of encompass everything that I do. Anything that can be done with a camera, basically I do, you know what I mean?

Do you add the word 'visual' – visual content creator?

Well, no. You could, I guess, if you wanted to. It's just I think these days when people hear the word 'content' they go, ‘Okay, cool, it's either got to do something with the internet, it's something to do with social media…’ I guess that connotation is associated to it now. If someone asks me what type of content, then obviously you could go into it, but I guess that's why...

When I started Little Ruby – when I had to name it and give it its social media handles and stuff –  Little Ruby was taken. So I was like, ‘Okay, what's another word?’ And that's why we're visual, because I guess it's generic enough to go, ‘Yeah, cool, everything that we do is visual in some description.’

Can you describe your style yet?

Not really, hey? I'm still trying to figure out what it is. And as I said to you, man, I've only just scratched the surface here. I'm still working it out myself.

Like, the other night, I was just mucking around with some editing techniques for a couple of drone shots that I took, and I started screwing around and kind of editing a little bit different than what I normally would. I ended up getting a really great result and I really loved it. I was like, ‘Okay, cool, that's something that looks a bit different to the other shit but is still in my realm.’ So I guess little things like that happen all the time.

I'm very outdoorsy. I like doing stuff that's like, you know, at the beach or outdoors. So I guess if I had a style, it wouldn't really be dark, enclosed spaces. If the sun's out and the water's blue, I am there. I love that stuff. But with client work – because client work changes all the time, I can't be at the beach with every job...

Unfortunately.

Yes, exactly right. That would be lovely. What I do, man, is the style is based on what they want, you know what I mean? And I think style comes into a lot of different things. Music is a massive thing in videos with vibe. Like, I could put a depressing string quartet, pull-your-heartstrings thing over a gym video, and it wouldn't really have the same vibe as some pump-up EDM track, you know what I mean? So, music is a big thing.

But I think with style for me it would just be the shots themselves. I just make sure that the shots and how they're done is just nice and clean and cool and good. My edits and stuff that I do aren't very complicated. Lots of guys are very, very good at editing and using different effects and using different transitions and all that sort of shit, which is rad. Like, I see some of that stuff and go, ‘That is amazing,’ but I don't really do that.

So, my thing is really simple really. Make sure the track is awesome and the track suits the vibe you're trying to get. Put in the best shots you possibly can and then make sure those shots look as great as they can be. Put all those three things together and you normally get something that's pretty on the mark, you know?

Little Ruby Creative Newcastle

Yeah. So you just talked about how you're not really watching what everyone else is doing, you're just focused on your own stuff. And you mentioned what inspires you is the outside world and opportunities...

Oh no, man. Like, dude, don't get me wrong. I follow people on Instagram and I look at people's work, but that's not necessarily the thing that motivates me to do what I'm doing to try and make myself better.

I do get inspired by that type of shit. And for me it's hilarious. I've seen a lot of interviews with different people who make content and do video stuff and, you know – they’re talking about the influencers being Scorsese or someone. And I'm like, ‘I fucking love those movies, but that’s in a whole other universe to me, hey?’ That is god-like stuff, you know what I mean? I can't say that he influenced me because I have no idea how he made Wolf of Wall Street so fucking good. Or, you know, pick whoever director of whatever movie – George Lucas is a big thing. He invented a whole universe in the '70s...

And shot in a way that people took ten years to catch up on.

Dude, James Cameron couldn't make Avatar because the technology wasn't even invented yet to make it. That's another thing.

‘I've got to wait to do that movie.’

Exactly right. So, I wouldn't say that I'm influenced by those people because I just think… That's just an 'awe' thing, you know what I mean? That's like a religious experience or something, rather than being influenced directly.

I guess my question, then, is who or what inspires you?

Sorry, that was a long way around it. I'm getting to that point. The guys who are doing the same sort of shit that I'm doing as far as what they're doing in the digital media marketing world – a big influence on me has been a guy down in Sydney, a filmmaker called Sam Evans. He's got a pretty big following on Instagram and stuff and he's actually mutual mates with a mate of mine.

I met him one Boxing Day at a party and I'd been watching his stuff on YouTube and stuff. I was like, ‘Oh, you're Sam Evans. You're the guy.’ And there's another guy who's a good mate of mine, a local guy called Sam Earp. He does a lot of photography and visual stuff. There's a guy in Sydney called the Drone Man – his real name's Adam Krowitz. He does some of the craziest drone stuff of all time. And he just has that eye. You know those guys who think of shit that you just don't even think of? ‘Oh, let's fly it over there.’ ‘Why?’ And then you look at the shot and go, ‘Oh!’

He put up a photo once – and this is probably crapping on a bit more than I have to – but he put up a photo once that looked like… You know the space shot of Earth with the sun going past the curvature of the Earth? All it was – he took a photo of sunset and reversed it. And when you look at it, it looks like it's taken from space but it's not; it's just a photo of a sunrise upside down. 

Jae Nelson Little Ruby Visuals Newcastle NSW

When you're not shooting and you're not gigging, where do you hang out?

I try to watch the Boston Celtics every time they play.

The people who are going to read this don't get to see the fact that you’re in their jersey right now.

It's lovely weather. I was like, ‘Hey, I'll throw it on.’ Yeah, dude, I am a massive, massive Boston Celtics fan.

Does that translate to basketball in general or are you a team guy?

No, I'm a team guy, but I love the sport. I'll watch a bunch of games but when the season starts. They play eighty-two times in a season, so that's every second day pretty much. I try to watch as many games. The last probably five seasons, I think I have not missed a game. So, I'm into it.

What do you wish someone taught you quicker that you had to learn?

You will shoot some fucking terrible photos and videos. That's what I wanted to know. Because, as I said, when you’re looking at the people who are doing it that you're influenced by, and you see the stuff and you think, ‘That looks so great,’ and then you go out and then try to – not do what they did, but, you know, go out and shoot for yourself.

2018 is just around the corner. Have you got any big goals for the coming years?

I really want to grow the wedding arm of the business. We've got a few weddings booked in from October onwards. There are a couple of things I guess I'm looking forward to in 2018, and working with the team at Newcastle Mirage – legends.

Find Jae Nelson, otherwise known as @littlerubyvisual, on Instagram and Facebook. Get a copy of our 2018 calendar to secure a few photos of his that are bound to inspire your year. Available via our website shop while stocks last.

You can get a copy of our 2018 Calendar, featuring Jae's work as well as 3 other amazing local photographers, while stocks last in our Online Store HERE Supporting us to support Newcastle.