Friday, February 27, 2009
Stuart Weston: Evolution In The Revolution
Stuart Weston’s fashion portfolio is the product of 30 years of redefining himself and working with rapidly changing technology
Weston felt like a photographer, behaved like a photographer and was quickly treated like a photographer. Next, he needed only to learn how to be a photographer—which actually wasn’t as hard as it might seem.
“I took to it very naturally,” he explains. “But more importantly, when I picked a camera up and looked through it for the first time, it just felt right. It was a bit of an epiphany. Other things I’d done before, I always thought there was going to be something else in the future; I wasn’t going to be doing it forever. There was no contentment there. But with a camera in my hand, I just thought I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. And that thought doesn’t frighten me. If you like something, it’s not work, is it?”
Weston continues, “The first five years were hard, but I kind of reached a point where I started seeing light differently. I started seeing it not as this invisible thing that travels mysteriously through the ether, but as almost a fluid thing. I could see it bouncing off surfaces and bouncing off the floor and flying around all over the place, almost like a liquid. And that’s when I started to just see it more clearly.”
Any successful photographer will tell you that talent will take you only so far, so as Weston mastered the technical aspects of photography and developed his “eye,” he also focused his attention on the business side of the photography.
Says Weston, “You have to build up the discipline necessary to be able to work with art directors, work with the client’s brief, understand their brand, how their brand is placed in the market, who their customer is. You have to be intelligent about branding. Who is the customer? Who are these people trying to appeal to? How do you do that, but at the same time maybe leave a dusting of your own personality on the thing just to move the brand forward a little bit in your own way?
“As you mature, then you start to understand these things, as well,” Weston adds, “so then you can operate within the commercial world whilst at the same time trying to retain some of your soul or some kind of impression of how you see things. Over the years, you find a balance between satisfying your creative needs and prostituting yourself for cash.”
His First Retirement
Weston has a way of explaining the photography business that makes it all seem coincidental and quaint. Maybe it is, but it doesn’t hurt to have his natural affinity and oodles of talent. His first clients must have seen it because he was quickly branded a success at whatever type of work he pursued.
“I came down to London very green, very naïve and very broke,” he says. “I went to see somebody and they said, ‘Oh, we shoot kids.’ I thought, I don’t want to shoot kids. ‘How much?’ They said 400 a day, I think, and I thought, Wow, that’s good money. So I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to shoot kids.’ And then within a year, I’m all over the place shooting for Next Directory, for Burberry, for all the major catalog companies here, and earning a lot of money out of it. And then everybody says, ‘Hey, you’re Stuart Weston, the kid photographer.’ And then you’re like, well, not really, but yeah, I can’t deny it.
“Then I moved to Miami and lived there for five years,” he continues, “and moved more into women’s wear, as well. And then it was like, ‘Hey, you’re Stuart Weston, the catalog photographer.’ And then after I’d had enough of that creatively—because I just thought I’ve got to find something else, there’s more to me than this—I retired. I was earning good money, but I threw my portfolio away and started doing what I really loved doing.”
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