Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing Stu of Starglider Photography based in Maidstone, Kent.
Hi Stu, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. We should probably start at the beginning, when and how did you come about getting into the world of photography?
"Wow! Okay, so for 16 years I was an actor. No, I'm not kidding either! I didn't make it big, but for a time I did do enough to live off of it. I am also a huge film lover too, and towards the end of my acting career I was basically mucking about with my acting friends, making short videos. It would usually end up me directing the shorts and it was that along with my love of film that I thought about film school.
So I looked into that, and quickly realised that there was no way I could afford to go to film school. So I looked at photography instead. Similar principles except that one was moving image and the other was stills. I had a very small interest in photography in the past but it wasn't until I actually started that I got totally hooked."
Photography can have it's share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of photography particularly challenging?
"For me it's purely transport and time. That is the one thing that is holding me back now. I don't drive and even if I could where I live doesn't have car parking space. If I had a car or more time away from the day job to try out other things I know my abilities and quality of work would greatly increase. It's something I am working on though!
Confidence can be troubling and I have seen its effects on both models and photographers but for me my acting past has essentially eliminated any sense of embarrassment or worry about trying stuff. But really all I can say to those people is do it. Don't overthink anything. If you have an idea and you have someone to help you create that then go for it. Even if it fails, you will learn a lot from that failure which in turn makes you a better person."
In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?
"If I had to draw from one place more than anything it would be films. Quite literally as I write this I am watching the Paul Hogan film Crocodile Dundee, and it is rich in some very interesting fashion styles that has piqued my interest.
Other times it can be random. I do try not to be too influenced by anyone really, and I have no idea of the names of the big names in the industry except for David Bailey and Terry Richardson (the latter I personally think isn't that good really from what I've seen). Sometimes I can wake up in the morning and think of an idea."
Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?
"Probably the one image that has a special significance for me is my Spiral Staircase shot. It was a rare time where I had a specific location, plan and model and everything just worked. It's not the most technically tricky shot I have done, nor was it physically the hardest shot to do, but it just 'worked'. Everything about it was just perfect for me, and on portfolio sites it is by far my most popular shot."
Photography sometimes leaves you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in because of photography/modelling?
"The moment I read this question I knew exactly what story I needed to tell. So I had wanted to do an urban nude street shoot. I loved the idea of a nude model wandering the empty streets of a usually busy town centre. I had it all planned out, model sorted, time, places and day. Sunday morning in early September, starting around 6.30am. From my research that was going to be the quietest time to do it with still good light.
So there we were; me, the model and an assistant I had with me on one part of the location. There had been the very rare person wandering by - usually a weary clubber who was hungover and making their way home, head down and quiet, almost embarrassed - but on the whole all was well. The model was a trooper and didn't care. I even had to tell her to stop posing when someone walks by.
So as she's stark naked posing away, an elderly gentleman entered the area we were at, war medals on his chest, dressed smartly, making his way to what I can only surmise would be church (or some other important function). Of all the people who would kick up a fuss I would've bet a million pounds it would be him.
We all stopped dead, waiting for the inevitable and as the old man was about to turn a corner and leave our location he stopped and turned. 'This is it' I thought. He opened his mouth and said,
"Can I get a 6x4 of that?".
We couldn't breathe from the laughter for a bit."
We've talked about your start in photography/modelling, we talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year, more of the same? any special projects? And in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?
"I do have a few ideas rolling around in my head at the moment. A couple of darker, more macabre shots. I call those mini-projects though as they are essentially one setup and can be done fairly quickly. As I said earlier transport is the main issue, but I have been wanting to go further afield and do more location stuff. I have bookmarked on my PC all the travel companies for that!
But the main thing I'm looking at is going back to my first love - film. Now that DSLR cameras are very good at extremely high quality video I am wanting to get back to making shorts. I have done a couple of early test videos which came out well and I have other ideas in the pipeline."
We can't really talk photography without discussing gear, so...what is your 'go to' equipment that you find yourself gravitating towards the most on shoots?
"Haha, I have such basic stuff it's scary! Okay so I have just the one camera - my Nikon D3200. It's such a nice easy camera to use and quite light too. I have the stock 18-55mm lens which I have to say does a pretty damned good job a lot of the time! I also possess the AF-S 35mm 1.8 lens too, which I whip out when doing more portrait work.
When I first started back in around 2006 I bought the Portaflash VM336 lighting kit from Jessops. And in January of this year (2016) I replaced them with the Lencarta Smartflash 2 studio kit, which I am extremely impressed with. For anyone who is starting out and wants a good deal, I highly recommend the Lencartas.
But yes, that means that for nearly 10 years I had been making do with a studio lighting kit that was so simple. The flash recycle times you measured in seconds and it had three settings, low medium and high. And that was it! But it only goes to show that as long as you work hard and know how to use lights properly you can get a lot of use out of them!"
Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find you and your work?
I'd like to thank Stu again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all of the links for more of his work.
Models in images, in order of appearance: Jenny Bee, Leanne Leawood, Nicole Hadley, Sammi Jo, Anna Rose, Marilyn D.