Hi Stefan! Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?
I’m a man who discovered photography many years ago as a schoolboy in South Africa, where I developed a love for making pictures that moved with me when I came to London 15 years ago. There have been times when working to pay the rent has kept me away from photography, but these days I have a good balance - picking up some professional assignments (often via my digital consulting work) whilst finding plenty of time to wander around London taking street photos or covering the occasional news event or protest march.
QWhat's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?
AThis happened one night on the Northern Line. I was taking lots of candids on the Tube with my iPhone at the time and I had just upgraded to a new phone so I was eager to use it. I spotted this great portrait opportunity - a guy sitting across the aisle from me -and I made a quick snap. The problem was that the new phone came with built-in flash and it was set to“auto” - but I didn’t know that. So I took the picture and the flash went off right in his face. I was mortified. He looked straight at me, his expression full of attitude, and I braced myself for a nasty confrontation. But he didn’t say anything. He shifted in his seat instead, tilted his knees to one side, straightened his back and started posing like a rather camp model! So I obliged, and we spent exactly one stop doing an impromptu portrait session before he got up and left without saying a word.
QWhat do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?
AA Nikon D800 with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for events, photojournalism & other commercial work, and the 50mm f/1.4 for portraits and street photos. I find the small 50mm lens perfect for street photography because it’s not so in-your-face, and the large aperture with the D800’s excellent high ISO performance means you can be quick & sharp even in London’s frequently gloomy light. I’d say my favourite set-up is no set-up at all. I like off-the-cuff, reportage work and I often take that approach even when people ask me to do a “formal” portrait.
QWhat's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?
AA few tips if that’s ok? 1. Invest in the best lens you can possibly afford, but other than that don't be obsessed with gear and gadgets. 2. Always get as close to your subject as possible. 3. Go find inspiration outside the predictable confines of Instagram, Flickr, 500px and those HDR (urgh) obsessed camera gear magazines. 4. Finally, buy a cheap film camera and learn how to make images the slow way, taken without the certainty of a digital camera's preview screen, and developed with sweat and tears in the darkroom. It will transform your eye, your technique and your style.