Stuart is another perth photography buddy of mine that has seen recent success with his summer series which has even found him in the sights of those illusive photography agents! I first came across Stuart when he was asking me about the LumoPro lp160’s which he ended up purchasing 3 units which he loves. Both Stuart and I would love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My names Stuart Holden and I run a photography business in Perth, Western Australia called Stuart Holden Imagery we are coming up to our 1st Birthday soon which is pretty exciting its been a crazy year. I just finished my Post Grad this year so its been non – stop all year. Currently single (hello ladies :P) and I am obsessed with photography. My life pretty much revolves around it, I love creating something from just an abstract idea and seeing it in print form. I originally grew up in Africa and did a lot of travelling there with my parents so I was lucky enough to be exposed to different cultures and experiences from a young age. I love travelling. I have an insane work ethic and my friends wonder about whether or not I actually sleep. I love charcoal chicken, nando’s and cider. I hate smoking, walking on wet grass with bare feet in the morning and people leaving wet towels on beds!! Is that enough? haha
What made you get into photography?
Thats a hard one I dont actually remember how I got into it initially … my dad had this Kodak 3.2 megapixel camera with a 64mb card which was insane back then and I would walk around taking pictures of things experimenting with the different colour settings and exposure. No one thought my pictures were any good so I kinda just kept taking them and not showing anyone. I dated a few models and we all know how much they love to have their pictures taken so I would just snap away at them all the time, I would just like capturing moments in time. I think I really started to get into DSLR cameras when my dad bought a lumix hybrid camera and for some reason he just takes the worst photos of people (sorry dad) he would set it on auto and just fire away when people weren’t ready, horrible angles etc. so I would sit and play with it trying to figure out how he took such bad images haha. One day a few weeks before a family holiday I bought a second hand canon dslr off of ebay and a cheap 50mm 1.8 lens (which I still use) and that was it – hooked from then on. I just read everything and anything I could get my hands on and just kept shooting and learning.
How did you get started?
It kind of just starts by itself really, I didn’t really have much faith in my images and wouldn’t show anyone until a good friend of mine Jaimee went through them and convinced me to start showing people. So I put some up on facebook and got positive feedback then posted more and more great feedback then started taking photos of family and friends and just building up my confidence. Another friend of mine has a clothing business and asked me to take some shots for her so I did that and posted those then kinda kept going shooting and posting and learning everything I could. I would go down to Camera Electronic and talk to the sales guys and they would pretty much guide me as to what I needed and what I should rent or buy etc. I would check the fstoppers and strobist websites everyday to learn about lighting and order pretty much every dvd I could find on lighting and photoshop. I was lucky I already knew how to use photoshop after an accident in the army and I was kinda chair bound for awhile and bored so I picked it up and just played around with it. After awhile I made a separate facebook, put up a website and word of mouth kept getting me bookings. This year has been huge for us – moving into the pro realm with the ACMP and submitting tenders for projects and briefs as well as fashion clients. All in all chugging along nicely. I like to do a variety of
￼shoots from fashion to street to family portrait sessions – they are all so dynamically different and offer different perspectives that stimulate my thinking. its awesome.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I honestly do whatever comes up – getting put in a box is not something I want to happen to me you know? if it’s a cool idea for a shoot I will run with it even if its a TFP type thing. I love expanding my portfolio and working with visionary people. I think at the moment this trend of TFP is killing the industry, everyone is to blame really, with DSLR kits being so cheap these days the onslaught of facebook weekend warriors continues to grow :
I believe a happy and well fed team is a creative team so we have loads of food and drinks and crank the tunes and have a lot of fun. I think personality is a major skill you need in this job you need to communicate with your subjects, I crack dirty jokes in the studio and love the banter between the hair and make up team and the models. When I started this vision I wanted it to be fun, the day it stops being fun. I quit. true story.
What gear are you using?
Canon 5D MKII
Canon 50 mm 1.8 (old trustworthy) with a modified lens hood.
Canon 85 mm 1.2
Sigma 24 – 70 mm 2.8
Canon 70 – 200 mm 2.8
Sigma 10 – 20 mm 2.8
Lowepro Bags, Honl Gels, Lumisphere Light modifiers,
3 x Lumopro LP160’s Speedlights.
(I rent Profoto gear on site)
I shoot tethered into Capture One Pro 6 on my 2011 15 inch Macbook Pro
I use Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS4, Lightroom 3, Aperture 3, Nik Software, Imagenomic Software. I use a spyder calibrating system on my dell monitor. I used to use the Mac monitors but I just felt that the colours would be too saturated at times.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I would have to say the 50mm f1.8 its like $100 plastic and very fragile, Ive gone through three of them this year, but just so sharp! If you’re starting out you cant go wrong – set on aperture priority mode on f1.8 or f2.8 and it gets a nice creamy shallow depth of field, f5.6 or f11 are its sweet spots I will use it for most of my fashion work at say around f9 in the studio – just an all round great lens.
How are you marketing yourself?
Well we have been lucky this year to have most of it be through word of mouth really. We keep up to date on facebook and out website is cranking now with client galleries etc. We have a few high profile clients like Bras n Things which is great for national exposure. I firmly believe that your clients need to meet you face to face over coffee and you need to sell yourself first, Ive had some clients who are absolute dorks and Ive just walked away but my main goal is to get to know my clients, figure out what I can do for them and what they can bring to the table. I have an amazing team constantly talking to our clients and making progress. Shoots can take weeks and weeks to set up and execute then the editing process is all me, alone in the dark with headphones on and the beats cranking! I guess our shoots are our marketing process I love using new models at least one thrown into the mix they are so excited and nervous and I feed off of it, its fun. We make it fun – get lots of platters and drinks and the make up and hair team Slajana Spaseski runs from Make Up By Design always has great gossip and funny stories so everyones laughing and having fun and they tweet about it or upload facebook images and texts of behind the scenes stuff and it gets out there and people WANT to be a part of the experience I think thats our biggest marketing tool. Make no mistake we have fun in a NON – pretentious way – no room for divas on my shoots. As soon as the model walks in front of my camera I switch on and its time to rock. Client satisfaction is #1.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
My favourite image at the moment is a photo I took recently at a beach shoot featuring Charlotte Elliot @ Image. I’m always so hard on myself and my work but that was the first image I’ve been happy with right away!
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Going Pro these days is a different process. the online forums are rife with arguments about what is pro and what isn’t etc etc. I get so tired of reading that stuff. I mean really, who cares? Everyone has a DSLR camera these days and shoot and burn photographers are watering down the industry with cheaper rates and pretty crappy photography. I think
pros do it because they love it – I never intended to be a pro photographer I just love taking images that move people. It is a great feeling. For new photographers wanting to go pro I would suggest buying the ACMP’s better business bible. It’s a great way to see how the process works. It’s tough running your own business but I would say starter essentials are : a nice classic clean website easy to navigate and forget the flash stuff especially for viewing on smart phones. Keep it easy and simple. Charge what you think you are worth. Don’t give away your services because its good for your “portfolio” that’s bull, unless you don’t have one then shoot everything you can. Be diverse – do everything from fashion to kids portraits to architecture its all experience and it’s fun being creative with different jobs. Stand your ground when being asked to work for free – if its not worth your time then don’t do it, if it is then milk it. Facebook is a great marketing tool to get your stuff out there. Learn everything about image licensing and network with other togs. I spend my time with pros that I think are better than me and I listen and learn all the time. The biggest mistake pro photographers make is getting an ego an thinking they have arrived. Never, ever stop learning and make sure your customers are satisfied and have a great rapport with them. If you are not good with people then try out landscape photography 😛