This is the case of Stewart Weir, born in Brighton, England. Freelance photographer since 1993. He has published and exhibited internationally in National Geographic Traveller Magazine, Esquire, GQ, Vogue, Stern, and Paris Match etc. besides his collaborations in over 40 books.
Fascinating and with an almost movie sensitivity, his "Photo Storys" inevitably drag you into the most emotional side of humanity, home, the drama and rapture of everyday life, the unrepeatable moment...
Stewart Weir has answered to our questions on his point of view about photography and beauty.
Emeconeme: What is photography for you?
Stewart: It’s a spiritual meditation. I mean that when I photograph I go into
another place in my mind and not just 'see' I feel and observe.
E: How would you define your style?
S: Old school. My style is more reminiscent of the 50's in my view and others who have commented on my work.
E: What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
S: I rarely do a shoot or story with preconceived ideas. I have the basic concept and then just see what happens in front of me.
E: What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
S: I spent 3 weeks in Herat, Afghanistan a few weeks after the fall of the Taliban. Never an easy place to get to and was overwhelmed by the hospitality the Afghans showed.
E: What is the most difficult thing when taking pictures of a catwalk?
S: Backstage is a stressful place not only for the models but also the dressers, hairdressers and designers. Not getting in their way or annoying them is the toughest I would say.
E: And a photo shoot?
S: I don’t generally shoot in a studio, the weather is always the potential enemy as is a model with a hangover or a hairdresser who doesn’t turn up.. funny thing is that no matter what goes wrong it always turns out right.
E: Many people hesitate when they are being taken a picture of, what do you think: pose or natural pictures?
S: Shooting a portrait is easy when a model whether amateur or professional loves what they are doing and knows how to put themselves across dependent on how the photographer is directing them. Ideally I always go for natural. I use a lot of role play when I shoot models for example and this makes the whole flow easier.
E: For amateurs, what are the main guidelines to pose for a photo shoot?
S: Relax, understand what the photographer or art directors creative brief is, if the photographer gives no direction ask for it and relax.
E: Black and white pictures are a difficult topic, how can we dress or makeup for this?
S: The makeup artist will be aware if the end result images are to be black and white. The shoot will almost certainly be shot digital in color and then converted into black and white in Photoshop. Dress and makeup is completely dependent on what the photographer is trying to achieve. Photoshop now allows us to cover every 'fault'.
E: Close-ups are very revealing; you can see the person's faults, wrinkles, pores, etc. What is your opinion about digital retouch to enhance and conceal these weak points?
S: It’s inevitable and part of the 'industry' that peoples features will be enhanced when promoting a product etc. Covers especially will involve moving a lot of pixels around to make the model even more perfect than they were before. If we saw the real model with no retouching then they would at least look more human but wouldn’t promote the product in the way the advertiser wants.
E: And what do you think of those advertising campaigns where the image of men and women is unreal, perfect and totally artificial?
S: Personally I feel the perfection that’s put across in the fashion industry has created many issues in young and older people. Anorexia, Bulimia etc. whilst not specifically caused by the fashion/cosmetics industry has had a huge impact over many years. There is no such thing as perfection but if you believe all you read and see in the glossy magazines then you’re wrong.
E: We are in the world of digital image and technology. Do you miss your old film camera?
S: Funny you should ask me that. For the last few months I’ve moved back to shooting film for all my work where possible.
E: Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?
S: I want to photograph the Ganges from the Himalayas through to the Bay of Bengal. Not asking for much, am I?
More about Stewart Weir on his website.
(Images provided by the author for this interview. All rights reserved)