Happy New Year! My first blogpost for 2014 is a truly fabulous interview with the uber talented London fashion photographer, Steven Harrison Brown – you will have seen his work in many top fashion magazines – and it really is an honour to chat with him about his work … hi Steven and welcome:
Hi, I’m Steven Harrison Brown, I am a freelance fashion and portrait photographer and have been for the past 15+ years. I am presently based in Beckenham, London, working from my own studio and on location. I was born and brought up in and around Battersea. I have always been creative and first thought that I would use this gift through creating culinary delights. Soon after training as a chef I realised that I had more leanings to visual forms of art and creativity, so after completing an Art Foundation course at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, I then went on to gain a BA at the London College of Printing. From there I started my journey into photography by assisting various esteemed photographers in the field of fashion, portraiture and advertising.
You did an art foundation course at the prestigious Central St Martins College of Art & Design and a photography BA degree at the London College of Printing. Your love of art certainly shines through your work – how old was you when you discovered this love? Was art your favourite subject at school?
My first memory of being recognised as an artist would probably have to be when I was in my first class at school; I had been playing with the plasticine, I soon realised that my teacher was removing the other children from the table and giving me all of the available plasticine. My finished creation was then carefully removed and put to one side and later was proudly shown to other members of staff and my mum. After this, my teacher always seemed to be putting my pictures up on display and making a fuss of them.
Although you can turn your hand at all styles of photography, fashion photography is your real forte. What inspired you to follow the fashion photography path?
My mum would design and make clothes and surrounded by four sisters, I was always interested in style and would browse through their fashion magazines and be coerced into giving them second opinions on their outfits. I wouldn’t say I was into fashion, but I do have a love for it, really more from a style point of view. My fashion shoots are more about having a narrative, taking influences from the past styles and works of art, creating a story within the shoot. With fashion shoots you have more freedom to express yourself and to shoot in a more experimental way, collaborating with up and coming designers is always exciting.
You’ve worked alongside many esteemed fashion photographers – what hints/tips/working practices etc have you adopted? Have you any favourite photographers whose work you admire?
My major thing is the lighting and painting a picture with it. I have been lucky enough to work with a few prestigious photographers in the past on location and in studio, working for high profile clients you learn to think on your feet and make quick decisions. Working as an assistant had its good and bad points, but is the best way to gain experience. Sometimes I was just there to make cups of tea and hold equipment, other times your point of view is considered and any ideas are respected and considered, the photographer would take time to explain why he was using certain lighting or techniques. If a particular photographer had a studio you may have been offered the use of this for your own projects. There are a few photographers with different reasons why I like and admire their work: Koto Bolofo – for his use of natural light and timeless imagery, also the angles he chooses to shoot from. He is an artist who uses photography to express his creativity. Miles Aldridge – he tends to tell stories with his shoots and uses very punchy colours, beautiful lighting, very different to Koto. Greg Lotus – who has great use of lighting and a way of using it to which I also aspire, creating beautiful pictures.
Your work has been published in many magazines including Vogue, GQ, Face, Runway Italian, Face, Canary Wharf Magazine. What has been your most favourite photo shoot?
I don’t think I have produced my favourite shoot yet. I am always thinking about the next project. A successful shoot is when everything comes together from that first idea/mood board to the final images, knowing this when these images just jump off the screen or page at you, or you just can’t take your eyes away from it, sometimes there is an element of surprise when you see everything completed. You are only as good as your last shoot. I am always trying to push boundaries a bit more with each project.
You have photographed many actors, models and musicians. If it was possible to arrange, who would you most like to photograph, dead or alive?
It’s not about someone’s status etc. in society, I have never tried to build my career on other peoples success, if I see someone whether they be a road sweeper or the CEO of a top company, famous actor or musician, or top fashion model, it’s all about the texture, composition and how the picture looks, trying to create something worthy of hanging in an art gallery.
Apart from fashion photography, what other genre of photography do you enjoy pursuing as a hobby/ free time? Is there any genre that you would like to try that you haven’t already?
I pretty much will do most genres, I would love to try my hand at moving images. A lot of ideas that I would like to do more of require a big budget, I love fine art and would love to produce more things for gallery exhibitions, but as with most people, its still about paying the bills and it is a luxury to be able to put something like that together.
Have you got a favourite photo shoot location? Is there any location or place you would like to visit for photography purposes?
In terms of locations and going to beautiful places, its all about budget, most photographers given the chance would go to somewhere with fantastic lighting and scenery, you can’t really go wrong. I think you have to be more creative to work with what you’ve got, than having a huge budget and pick of exotic locations, (but don’t let the advertising companies know that.)
Your interests outside photography include visiting art galleries & museums, painting, sculpture and travel. So, where is your favourite destination? What destination(s) are on your visiting wishlist? Being a fellow Londoner like myself, which museum or art gallery in London are you most likely to be found visiting?
I love the Tate Gallery and the Saatchi Gallery and also the Photographer’s Gallery. I like the idea of Cuba and all the grand decaying buildings, I would love to do a big project there.
Cuba – Old Havana – I love that idea too!
Can I be cheeky and ask THAT question – Nikon or Canon?
I bought into Canon at an early age and for that reason had the lenses when everything went digital so stayed with Canon as I didn’t have to replace all the lenses. With the event of digital photography, cameras are changing really quickly, it’s not good to get too bogged down with equipment, you could become a geek that buys all the latest stuff that’s out, but it shouldn’t really be about that. My oldest digital camera has settings that I haven’t even used and no idea what they do.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
It’s more about the style than the fashion, so if something stirs something within me I wouldn’t be afraid of wearing it.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Not really, but love exploring, shopping and taking in the atmosphere in the North Laines of Brighton.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
A vintage leather coat.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about your photography.
Please visit me at my website:
Thank you so much Steven for joining us tonight – I’ve really enjoyed interviewing you and I look forward to seeing more of your fantastic photographs throughout 2014.
Photo credits: All photos have been published with kind permission of Steven Harrison Brown.