Bear+Mouse

Posted on July 26, 2010

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Ian & Tess

Bear+Mouse are a photography duo formed by Ian and Tess. After meeting through photography at Moth (a club night that Ian co-runs in Brisbane), they became great friends and decided to make something of their strong creative ideas and thus, B+M was conceived. Currently, Tess is based in London but manages to do short trips to shoot in other parts of Europe, while Ian in Brisbane getting snaps of the cool kids there.

The Design Critic: So…what’s the story behind the name?
Bear+Mouse (Bear): When we started the project at the beginning of 2010, we had a time constraint before Tess headed overseas. After going through dozens of names, her mum suggested bear and mouse. It turned out that it was the name of two dogs her friend had, and it just clicked. While I was in California, I was nicknamed ‘The Bear’, due to my beard, height and deep voice. Mouse seemed to suit Tess quite well, with her smaller height and cute look. So we went with it, guess you could say it’s quirky, but we like that.

TDC: What is your philosophy?
B+M (Mouse): We do this because it genuinely makes us happy. We love people, style and music and want to capture and share that through Bear + Mouse.

B+M's guerilla tactics at work.

TDC: How is a bear’s photography style different from a mouse’s?
B+M (Bear): Tess can just run up to someone on the street because she’s this bubbly excitable girl and get people to pose, they really open up for her. With me it’s a little tricky, I think that my height (well over 6″) and beard might make first impressions harder, they seem less comfortable. I tend to capture strangers quickly and off guard, so you get a glimpse of their true side before they hide it with a pose. The key thing is that we want our style to keep evolving.

Posh Spice doppelganger!

TDC: Nowadays, many people have DSLRs. Does that make them a photographer?
B+M (Bear): Not at all, you could be running around with the brand new top of the line DSLR that Daddy bought you for your birthday and still take horrible photos. Photography is about exploration and development of your style. You use the tools you have access to, to capture the essence of your surroundings. Tess uses a Canon G11 with external flash which isn’t even an SLR (although shes been pining over one for quite some time now) and my Nikon DSLR is over 4 years old. All you need is creativity and passion.

TDC: In one sentence, what is photography not about?
B+M (Mouse): Being a photographer for the wrong reasons, because it makes you popular on Facebook or it seems to be the “in thing” to do right now.

TDC: Any advice for budding photographers?
B+M: Experiment, be creative, find your style. Practice and take your camera everywhere.

Thanks Tess + Ian for the interview and the wonderful images, and we hope they become popular on Facebook.

The Design Critic: B+M have tons of awesome pictures. Check out their website, or better still, become a Facebook fan.

1) “Bear + Mouse” is an interesting name. Is there a story behind it?

BEAR: Back at the start of the year when we started the project, we had a time constraint before Tess headed overseas.  We went through dozens in the rush to give ourselves a name her mum suggested bear and mouse.  It turned out that it was the name of two dogs her friend had.  It was one of those weird coincidences that just clicked.  While I was on exchange in California, a friend gave me the nickname ‘The Bear’, I guess it was due to my beard, height and deep voice. Mouse seemed to suit Tess quite well, with her smaller height and cute look.  So we went with it, guess you could say it’s quirky, but we like that.

2) Tell us a bit about Bear + Mouse.

MOUSE: Bear + Mouse is pretty special to us. We met through photography at Moth (a club night that Ian runs with some friends in Brisbane) and spent all our time talking about cameras, style, bands, street art and it clicked that we had loads in common. We both felt that we had some strong creative ideas and so decided to make something of it. It helps that we’re both such great friends, there are no boundaries. We’ve expanded to different parts of the world now, Tess is based in London and did a quick stint in Spain shooting in both Madrid and Barcelona, Ian’s based back in Brisbane getting snaps of the cool kids about there.  Its our way of staying in touch with each other.

3) Your website seem to feature mainly party shots, and a few fashion. Your Facebook albums however, feature almost everything. What is the philosophy behind Bear + Mouse?


MOUSE: We’re still updating and working out the the website.  At the moment it’s a selection of shots from various nights we’ve shot, they link you to the facebook album. Our fans are mostly on facebook and so it’s the fastest way we can communicate to them right now. As for the philosophy… We do this because it genuinely makes us happy. We love people, style and music and want to capture and share that through being Bear + Mouse.

4) It seems though that there are two very different styles in your photographs. Is there a reason or explanation for this? (we understand that there are two people behind B+M)


BEAR: I guess the main reason is that there are two people involved.  Its weird how Tess can just run up to someone on the street because she’s this bubbly excitable girl and get people to pose, they really open up for her. With me it’s a little tricky, I think that my height (well over 6″) and beard might make first impressions harder, they seem less comfortable.  I tend to capture people who I don’t know really quickly and catch them off guard, so you get a glimpse of their true side before they hide it with a pose.  Different cameras and physical height differences also play a part as well.  The key thing is that we want our style to keep evolving.

5) Nowadays, many people have DSLRs. Does that automatically make them a photographer?

BEAR: Not at all, you could be running around with the brand new top of the line DSLR that your Daddy bought you for your birthday and still take horrible photos.  Photography is about exploration and development of your style.  You use the tools you have access to, to capture the essence of your surroundings.  Tess uses a Canon G11 with external flash which isn’t even an SLR (although shes been pining over one for quite some time now) and my Nikon DSLR is over 4 years old.  All you need is creativity and passion.
6) In one sentence, what is photography not about?

MOUSE: Being a photographer for the wrong reasons, because it makes you popular on facebook or it seems to be the “in thing” to do right now.
7) Any advice for budding photographers?

BEAR + MOUSE: Experiment, be creative, find your style. Practice and take your camera everywhere.

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Posted in: Photography