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 I loved about 4x5 is none of those things,” Weston says. “It’s about looking. I used to freak some clients out when I’d give them three frames. I’d never shoot more than four; you don’t need to! It’s like you go through the whole process of a shoot without taking a picture until I go, ‘That’s it, that’s right.’ The first sheet is a test sheet for the lab, then another three with just very slight variations. I love shooting like that.”
Retouching And Digital Imaging
A fundamental part of Weston’s success has come from his postproduction prowess. Not only does he apply his skills to his own work, but he offers the service to paying clients, as well.
“How am I going to create a look with my personality on it with something as lacking in spirit as a bunch of zeros and ones?” Weston asks. “Previously, you’d manipulate the look of your image through your knowledge of film and what you can do with it and the processing and exposure. Now it’s whatever technique you use in post. And I’ve deliberately tried to re-create some of that Polaroid look to some of the pictures. I think it’s evolved somewhat, but it’s born of that need to try and re-create something soft.”
Weston also works to add painterly elements and graphic effects to his images with an “anything goes” attitude. He doesn’t do it all the time, but he isn’t afraid to add graphic treatments or snapshots to his high-end fashion work. The effects are uniquely his own.
“There’s a lot of work that’s quite seamless,” Weston says, “which has been shot using a composite of different images from different locations or from places that you’re not allowed to shoot. It comes naturally, but I have a bit of a rebellious streak. There are a lot of places you’re not allowed to shoot because you need a permit or they want a fortune from you. So it’s my way of giving certain places the finger. I’ll go into places with a Canon XS like a tourist and just shoot whatever I want, and then drop it in later. I think that’s a bit of fun, really.”
Other times, Weston’s retouching skills are applied only to perfect a skin tone or other subtle element. It’s difficult and time-consuming, but Weston puts it in perspective.
“If you can’t do it in an hour,” he says, “you’re doing it wrong. It’s a combination of everything really—good makeup artist, decent light and then a bit of post. Sometimes I get a bit carried away. If I’m super-busy, I’ll get somebody else to do the basics and then I give things the final look. It’s quite a personal thing, the final look.”
Weston’s look is at once slick and classic, dark yet colorful. He enjoys the juxtaposition not only of styles and genres, but of textures, colors and tones. His use of color, in fact, relates directly to the rest of the evolutions he has seen.
“It’s what happens with your career,” he says. “You shoot a really strong redhead story, and it stands out in your portfolio, and then a client goes, ‘Oh, I really like that; hey, let’s do it with a redhead!’ And then you’ve got two redhead stories in your book. Then somebody goes, ‘Wow, this guy’s really good at redheads. Let’s get a redhead!’
“‘Oh, you’re Stuart Weston, the redhead photographer!’” he laughs. “I don’t call myself anything. I just take pictures.”
To see more of Stuart Weston’s photography, visit www.stuartweston.com.
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