Interview With Stu Freeman

Photographer Stu Freeman captures compelling moments and candid happenstances in everyday life in the tradition of street photography.

Stu’s series ‘Crop’ marries this tradition with a fresh approach to composition, experimenting with tight framing un-manipulated in postproduction to create intriguing images that inspire the viewer to extend their imagination beyond the frame.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Originally from Bath in England, I moved to Sydney from London 4 1/2 years ago with my wife. I lived in London for 8 years. I’m currently working as a freelance photographer, art director and visual merchandiser. My background is retail visual merchandising, and for the past 12 years I worked full-time for big international brands. Last year, I decided to move away from full-time work to explore freelance work through contacts I made along the way.

What first inspired you to pick up a camera?
I have always been a very visual person, even at school I would try and draw pictures to tell a story rather than with words, so I suppose it came naturally to me to pick up a camera. My first memories of owning a camera was when I bought an old Hanimex 35mm camera from a charity shop in my home town of Bath in the South West of the UK for a pound.  I must have been around 14 years old. I just used to photograph random things I saw, and my friends.

How does black and white vs colour play into your work? Do you have a preference and why?
When I shoot film it’s always black and white, I really like the consistency in the tones and I feel the subjects suit being black and white. When shooting with digital I always shoot in colour, then if I feel the image would suit black and white I change it later. Over the past few years my taste has changed when its comes to colour photography from being heavily saturated to being washed out. I tend to edge towards black and white cause I know what I like.

What is your favourite place/s to shoot? What place have you found most inspiring?
I like shooting people candidly on the street, any street really. Recent trips to Barcelona, London and Singapore have inspired me to travel more purely to take photographs of people doing their everyday things.

Can you share the story behind one of your recent photographs?
I was walking along Pitt St in the city and in front of me I saw to elderly ladies talking, one with a suit case next to her. This alone was an interesting shot, as I took out my camera to take the shot the lady with the suit case gave the other lady the biggest hug. The moment of embrace was lovely to see and made a great picture.  

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of the photographic process?
The confidence to shoot a stranger, I have good days and bad, I realised the best way to be is open rather than hiding the camera at your waist or shooting with a smart phone. If people see me I just give them a smile.

According to Martin Parr, all photography has an agenda.  Do you agree, and what would you say is yours?
Yes I agree, like most things we do there needs to be an agenda or is there any point in doing it? My intention is to capture moments shared by people, once that moment has gone it’s just a memory.

Do you feel it is valid if a street photographer participates in making a photo, not just observing the event?
There’s no right or wrong - it all comes down to the picture. It doesn’t matter how you get there.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline you’d like to share?
I’m going to Berlin next month which is going to be interesting, I’ve always wanted to go. I’m also working on a project based around tourists and their behaviour when visiting Sydney’s tourist attractions. Its going well, but has slowed down, I’m looking forward to the summer for it to pick up again.

See Stu's artist profile page and buy his work here

Words: Lauren Castino