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
What Weston most loved then is still evident in his work today. The only difference is that 10 years ago, it was done with large-format film and view cameras.
“Everything was 4x5 Polaroid,” he says. “My whole portfolio looked like a collection of oil paintings, really, because I just wanted to bring some kind of art that inspired me into the work, and that was Renaissance. The rules apply to most of the good work I do now. The rules have been around for a long time. They’re not mine; I just happen to observe them. They’re really quite paint-like, the more classic shots. The ones that have a clearer signature, if you like, it’s just classical composition.
“Then I went through another phase,” Weston adds, “where it was like, ‘Hey, you’re Stuart Weston. You’re the guy who does all that beautiful arty stuff!’ Which was very nice—it gave me a good reputation—but I was broke again! Really, really broke! But creatively, very, very satisfied.”
Along Came Digital
In addition to possessing great photographic skill, Weston is a successful businessperson. He invested wisely in a property that became his first studio, and he made a smart transition into digital capture—but only when he deemed the time to be exactly right.
“I’m really quite into science and technology,” he says, “and I could see what was happening with the digital market, but I knew whatever was out there wasn’t right for me—until Hasselblad came out with the HD series. After years and years bent over the waist-level finder, I started having back problems, and then along came this great digital camera. I looked through the back and my posture was different, so it’s kind of odd, but that helped me, as well. Here’s a camera with the right specs for the first time, anatomically it works for me, and I tried one out and I invested in it. I remember it was £22,000—a lot of money! But I was spending more than double that amount every year on film and processing! So it was a no-brainer.
“I still had the 4x5 out,” adds Weston, “because that’s my favorite format. I had a couple of jobs where I thought there was no way I could shoot digital so I got the 4x5 out. Just out of interest, I’d get the Hasselblad out, squeeze a few off—super-slow shutter speeds, keep it really calm and get that nice stillness—and it looked great! I was blown away. I did a few jobs on the 4x5, got the drum scans back from the lab, got them on the screen and just thought, well, I can’t justify the cost.
Weston’s signature style is evident in the work featured in this article and on his website. As a professional, he has found that it pays to display a trademark look, but his personal style constantly evolves. ‘There’s so much work that you don’t see on my website and in the portfolio that I never show,’ he says. ‘It does evolve, but I always try to keep that signature in the work that I prefer to show to the rest of the world—because I like to try to bring it back to that, because that’s my comfort zone.’“The Hasselblad, for me, is just as good,” he says. “Of course, digital creates other problems: Everybody has become an art director. I have clients say, ‘Where’s my screen?’ I’m like, What do you mean where’s your screen? What are you talking about? ‘I want to see the pictures as you shoot them.’ What, you don’t think I can shoot it? ‘Oh, it’s not that.’ I say, Well then sod off! I’m sorry, I’m not doing all that tethered business. They get a picture up on the screen, and the makeup artist, the stylist, the assistant, the client—everybody is over your shoulder and trying to make a comment. They’re killing the whole process!
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