The Showcase: Jason Hindley

Posted on: June 25th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

“The Showcase” is a weekly publication featuring a photographer that has caught our eye here at The F STOP. I’ve asked Jason Hindley to answer a few questions about his elegant imagery.

Your eye frequently discovers subtle beauty in mundane environments, what’s your secret?

For me light can create many moods and atmospheres that appeal to me as a photographer. Often I think it is the quality of light that draws my eye to a scene or object. Some of the images I capture are very much fleeting moments; the objects and the scenes themselves remain; yet the light that transforms the mundane often disappears the next. You could say I don’t photograph specific objects but more specific ambiences, the objects and environments before the camera just happen to become significant to me in that light and moment. I am also more interested in photographing what is considered to be dull and boring and turning them into interesting and beautiful imagery than simply capturing something that is obviously beautiful. For me, there is not much pleasure or excitement in that.

Jason Hindley #1

Much of your personal work seems to be documentary in nature but the images have such a clean polished look, do you ever use artificial lights to supplement the ambient lighting? If so, what’s your approach to lighting?

I like to keep things looking as natural as possible. I try to use natural daylight but if there are other sources of lights like streetlights or neon lights from signs that add an interesting element to the photo, then obviously I will incorporate those as well. When necessary, I do use additional lights to supplement the existing lights but these will be used to compliment and not to take over. I don’t like my photographs to look too contrived or artificial.

Jason Hindley #2

It seems like you’ve shot in a lot of hotel rooms, is there a reason for this recurring theme in your work?

Yeah, it seems that way! I do have quite a lot of work that I have shot in hotel rooms. It’s not a conscious decision though.  I don’t like to limit what I photograph in terms of subject matter so in actual fact the things I photograph are very diverse. Having said that, I do think hotel rooms are like mini-environments, almost like ready made sets. I often photograph when I travel and I think the sensation you get when in a place very different from home, makes you more acute of the environment around you, all those quirky differences become fascinating to a photographer! This may be why I always see so many interesting things I want to photograph when in a hotel room.

Jason Hindley #3

Your personal work is mostly documentary but you’ve recently shot a lot of beautiful advertising work, was it a challenge to get art buyers to hire you without having big budget shoots under your belt?

Yes it is difficult, especially when your work is not too commercial and “clean cut”. But there are art buyers and creatives that can see that my style of photography can be very successfully applied to advertising work. Once you get the ball rolling then that helps too. Some of the campaigns I have shot for the Home Office has resulted in repeat work, so having a good working relationship with agencies is very important.

Jason Hindley #4

You seem to be less interested in photographing people then in human objects and environments, why is this?

All subject matters in my personal work are real.  I photograph environments and objects that I happened to come across and I never create things or set things up. This is the same when it comes to people. I have started to photograph more people in my recent work but they are again real people that are in their environment. I never like to go out seeking interesting looking or beautiful people to photograph and put them in an environment that I have set up for them. I approach photographing people in just the same way I do my other subject matters. You can say that I photograph people as one of the elements in the surroundings. I like to photograph people but not really as a typical portrait. Recently I exhibited a series of images of commuters on the Tokyo metro titled Sleeping Passengers. The images are an observation I made of passengers in Tokyo, and the environment of the train is very much as important as the people themselves, it gives an interesting context.

Jason Hindley #5

The Showcase: Kyoko Hamada

Posted on: June 18th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

“The Showcase” is a weekly publication featuring a photographer that has caught our eye here at The F STOP. I’ve asked Kyoko Hamada to answer a few questions about her quietly beautiful imagery.

How would you describe your work?

I make images with ordinary objects, people, and landscapes – recognizable things, often in flat broad daylight or diffused mixed strobe lights. The elements are positioned against one another with careful arrangement, I look to create unexpected tension, a certain surreality, emotion and discovery that transcends reason. A small detail in a big picture can be most important element that holds everything else together, I find that most ordinary boring things can be the most extra-ordinary things. Everyday life can be full of surreal wonders, extraordinary things can become ordinary and what we become too accustomed to sometimes can be a strange horror to someone else.

Kyoko Hamada image #1

Your imagery has a calm and quietness to it that I find very soothing, what do you want the viewer to take away from your images?

Photographs have no sound and speak no language but I like to think that they start a silent dialogue with the viewers… it’s really up to the viewers what they find.

Kyoko Hamada image #2

You moved to the United States from Tokyo at age 15, do you feel that your Japanese background has had an impact on how you create images? If so how?

I think language and the way people think or behave have a certain influence on the brain. If I am influenced by my Japanese background, which I probably am, I’m not conscious about it. Balance, stillness, and minimalism are natural comforts to me in image making. Often these words are also used to describe old traditional Japanese art forms like haiku, bonsai, and ikebana. I still find it easier and more comfortable to read in Japanese than in English.

Kyoko Hamada image #3

A lot of your commissioned imagery has a very realistic feel to it in that the people seem to be unaware of the camera, how do you direct your talent during a shoot?

Often people like to be instructed when they are being photographed otherwise they feel too self-conscious. It is an intimate exchange and I’m always grateful for anyone who takes time to sit front of me and my camera. I have some ideas developed in my head, but when I meet the subjects, I first observe them. Then I give them certain instructions based on what I see. I create the space that suits them, but after that, I’d like to keep things free.

Kyoko Hamada image #4

The projects on your website are all clearly done by the same photographic eye but the subject matter is so different, what inspires you to start a new project?

It’s different depending on the project…Clown care unit was actually from a sort of failed project on “animal therapy,” but I was also moved by Fellini’s La Strada. Hello Lovely Walls was a statement I heard when I was visiting South Africa. Apples and bananas developed when I revisited my high school I attended when we moved to the US. Sometimes a certain idea can sit there with me for quite some time until I know how to make it into photographs. I think it’s important to be curious, be open to new situations, places and people. Small everyday observation and the process of doing can inspire ideas for the next project.

Kyoko Hamada image #5

The Showcase: Vincent Fournier

Posted on: June 11th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

 “The Showcase” is a weekly publication featuring a photographer that has caught our eye here at The F STOP. I’ve asked Vincent Fournier to answer a few questions about his Space Project photography series.

Where did you get the idea to create the Space Project series? What was your inspiration?

The Space Project started about 3 years ago, while I was photographing some sort of manufactured landscape for my Tour Operator project. I was in Hawaii making pictures of the Mauna Kea observatory which inspired me to start a project about landscape with observatories. I eventually decided to enlarge the project to the space centers around the world exploring the idea of man and space, whether we are
looking at the sky, whether we are going in the sky. This work is also linked to the book From the Earth to the Moon from Jules Vernes. This project is still in process and I need a lot of time to get access to the different centers. Though the first part of the work has been shown in international galleries and magazines, it is in progress and aiming to be an archive of the most representative space organizations in the world.

I believe that this project came from the experience, that we all have, whilst looking at the stars during our childhood, when we suddenly realize the infinity of the universe, and that we are (a small) part of it. It is about the unseen and mystery of the universe. This experience is a sort of initiation ritual. It gives you a sense of the finished and unfinished, and the feeling of the rhythm of time by looking at the
movements of the planets. I still remember this experience like something very physical that has changed something for me. It was very intense but comfortable at the same time, like a reconciliation with the sky and the earth.

The perception of the cosmos is also interesting when we compare the Russians with  the Americans or Europeans. The Russians had a very religious idea of the cosmos, it is almost like God, mystical. In the city of Tcheboksari you can see a church that is designed like a Vostock. Every time they are launching some cosmonauts in space, they have a priest come to baptize them. The cosmos is a religious space, calm and organized. For the Americans, the idea of space is more technical, very complex almost like chaos, something that needs to be organized, to be understood. We can see this difference in the two opposite movies Solaris by Andrei Tarkovskij and 2001, A Space Odysey by Stanley Kubrick. In my photography this comparison is in between Star City and Kourou.

Vincent Fournier #1

How did you gain access to the people and facilities ?

I had been doing a lot of research and location scouting, especially through the internet, when I first discovered the Mars Society, in charge of the Mars Desert Research Station. I realized the potential of an aesthetic documentary of this Martian landscape with human figures wearing space suits. I knew it was something I wanted to photograph. I became a member of the French “Planète Mars” and eventually after a year, got the authorization to photograph. The MDRS is supported by the NASA and the goal is to simulate life on Mars in order to improve our knowledge for future trips to the planet. These people are researchers in all sort of disciplines, like biology or psychology and are usually studying for a week in this Mars-like environment.

Vincent Fournier #2

Was it documentary or did you set-up some of the images ? 

My work is always based on documentary but, on this instance, I was aiming to be almost like a painter, with the same approach in terms of composition and color. I was working with very realistic material because all situations I was photographing were real. I have, however, consciously organized my composition and chosen all elements within the frame: location, people and direction, light, clothes etc. In this sense, theses images are staged documentary, so I can control the outcome unlike some of my past reportage work.

Vincent Fournier #3

You were exposed to things that most people never get to see, what was the most impressive part of your experience creating these images ?

It was quite a challenge to get access to all these space facilities. I guess you feel like you are part of the unknown, of the mystery… but you realize that afterward because after  struggling so much to get access, once you are on location you only focus on your work in order to make the most of it, then when the work is done and you are happy about it you realize where you have been and what you have done. Maybe the Star City near Moscow was one of the most impressive, also because you feel like you are in a movie from Tarkovski. History of space exploration is strongly linked to the army. I grew up in the seventies, when space research was still the symbol of achievement for developed countries. With the end of the cold war, space research is no longer the priority for states. The future of space exploration is now more connected to the emerging space tourism and sub-orbital flight. But tourism might be another way of domination too.

Vincent Fournier #4

How did people respond to you throughout your time there? Were they encouraging? How have people responded to these images ?

Regarding the art world I am now working with galleries in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, New York and soon London. The press is also very good with publication in magazine from Moscow, Shanghai, Spain, Italy, UK, France, Germany, Holland.

Vincent Fournier #5

The Showcase: Nick Veasey

Posted on: June 4th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

 “The Showcase” is a weekly publication featuring a photographer that has caught our eye here at The F STOP. I’ve asked Nick Veasey to answer a few questions about his x-ray photography.

How did you get involved with x-ray photography?

About 15 years ago I first started experimenting with x-rays.  It was the right time for me as my previous attempts with photography were not at all usable in the commercial sense.  I was really into being Superman.  I tried flying, got the cape, wore my underpants on the outside, the works… But I couldn’t fly.  Feats of supernatural strength don’t come naturally either.  But I do love getting quickly dressed in confined spaces and can spot a VPL on a sexy arse at 100 yards.  So I had to concentrate that voyeurism into something practical.  X-Ray Vision was my kinship with Superman.  Once I started seeing inside I had to share it with the world.

Nick Veasey image #1

Describe the process of creating these images.

The images are created in my X-ray laboratory. I have several machines which are suited to different types of materials and objects and I can undertake many different exposures and shots to capture what I require from the subject. I process the film and pass it to my team of experts who scan the films at very high resolution and then painstakingly retouch the images upon the computer.

Nick Veasey image #2

How do you create an x-ray of a gigantic object like the one of a jet plane in it’s hanger?

The plane was a major project that took considerable time and a great deal of planning. I was lucky enough to have close help and aid from engineers at Boeing. I took many X-rays of diverse aero parts and ground based elements for the hangar which were pieced together and composed digitally.

Nick Veasey image #3

It seems like a dangerous job, what kind of precautions do you have to take to prevent exposure to radiation?

Radiation is dangerous stuff.  It is invisible, has no smell, you can’t touch it, but it can be lethal.  So I’m extremely careful.  I wear protective clothing.  I work in a purpose built x-ray laboratory thicker than a nuclear bunker that contains the radiation.  This building is over specified but I don’t want to cut corners when it comes to safety. I use a Geiger counter to check radiation levels.  I wear a radiation monitor that records my exposure to radiation. All these risks and precautions are balanced by the serene beauty in some of my pictures and the real enjoyment I get from doing it.  Just like Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll, I’m at my happiest when in my lab. The fact that I use dangerous equipment, the same equipment used to look for cancer and tumours to create things of outstanding beauty makes my art connect with all sorts of people, not just the photographic community.

Nick Veasey image #4

What makes for a beautiful x-ray image?

Detail. Intrigue.  Honesty.  X-Rays show things for what they are made of.  It is an honest process.  I can’t fiddle with f stops and lights.  All I can do is reveal what lies beneath.  And that does me fine.  To my eye my most beautiful x-rays are those of organic subjects.  Nature never ceases to amaze me and there is so much of it about.  Leave your computer alone for a few hours and check out the world.  It is nice.

Nick Veasey image #5

Can you tell just by looking at an object if it will be a successful x-ray image or is it mostly done by trial and error?

Are you kidding me?  I’ve got X-Ray Vision.  Of course I can tell by looking at something what it will be like in x-ray.  I just haven’t seen everything I want to yet.  So I’ll keep doing x-ray, just x-ray nothing else.

Nick Veasey image #6

Leon Steele

Posted on: June 1st, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

Cheekscape PortraitWritten by T.K. Dalton
Edited by Jesi Khadivi

Where others see a silhouette Leon Steele sees a new horizon. Through his lens, people become physical features, camels and cows become simple textures in a larger landscape. In a cutthroat industry where sexuality often sells, Steele turns that idea on its head as well: a shoot for an organic food company becomes an artistic statement. “We took these girls into the middle of a field, stripped them naked and turned them into landscape,” he says. The same innovative aesthetic has been utilized in our featured image, a personal piece entitled “Cheekscape.”

For this shot, Steele wanted to create an image that was tack sharp and would be large enough to print several feet wide while preserving fine detail. His technique for maximizing sharpness and creating a large file to print from was to create ten separate exposures of the talent, each one focusing on a slightly different part of the face so, when everything was combined in Photoshop, the result would be extreme sharpness throughout the image. Steele required absolute stillness from the talent, who also happened to be one of his Inspiration from the Criminal Minds shootassistants, and all of the lights and equipment to be firmly in place so nothing would move during the ten exposures. Steele used City 5000 power packs instead of his more usual Profoto equipment. He’s a fan of older equipment, despite its risks. (“Damn heavy and will blow your head off if used incorrectly,” he says, “but well worth the extra effort and insurance premium.”)  He used two heads, each with a 5’ strip light and barn doors, running off the packs. The lights were placed partially behind large light blue boards and bounced in such a way to create a very precise moonlit look. A silver reflector was also placed behind the camera to add a bit of detail to the shadows. He placed the camera, a Sinar P2 with a 55mm lens and a Leaf Aptus 75 digital back less then an inch from the subject’s face. Each of the ten exposures were f/16 at 50 ISO. Retouching took five days; the final file weighed in at over two gigabytes.

In all his work, whether it be commissioned or fine-art, Steele sees a single, subtle stylistic vision.  “I try to break things down without too much clutter or fuss.” His trademark as a commercial photographer is finding the beauty in anything. This feature is evident in his personal work as well. Steele strives to view the beauty of a subject from unexpected angles, starting with a portrait of his nephew’s back. Some critics claimed it was not a portrait; it has since been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. “There was a big brouhaha about it because [they] debated whether it was a portrait or not. The animal backs and cows have been really well received and they were hugely enjoyable to shoot,” he says.The talent was stabilized using a roll of tape

In fact, many of the successes in his impressive career have only come after untying some serious knots. He calls of an early shoot for New Balance, “a real baptism by fire,” and “the most stressful thing I have done, but the great thing is nothing has come close to that. Nothing is stressful anymore once you’ve been to the point where you’re almost doubled up on your hotel floor thinking that you’re going to mess this shoot up. It’s really good to put yourself through that.” With luck this too worked out—it was early in his career and Steele’s technical skills had some holes. Those holes have been filled in, leaving him free to look for his next new vision. “Often the way I work [is] to catch a glimpse of another angle, which turns what I’m looking at on its head,” he says. “It’s a way of seeing. The technique is the easy part. The magic is in the idea.”

Steele was interviewed by our Editor Zack Seckler about his career and his craft:

F STOP: Please tell us a bit about the Cheekscape photo, our featured image. Where did the idea come from?

Steele: The idea came whilst working on another job. I was photographing an ad for a TV program called Criminal Minds. I remember there was something interesting about the way that the light fell across the subject’s face, and what I tend to do is to hone in on something that interests me during a job and come back to it after the shoot. I was fascinated by the fact that something was going on with the side of this guy’s head. I’ve been shooting abstracted landscapes since 1993 so this kind of imagery is in my sphere of thinking.

F STOP: You’ve also photographed cows and horses in this way too, right?An image from Steele’s portfolio

Steele: The cow/horse landscapes were exhibited here in New York.

F STOP: So basically you just visualized the idea from something you saw on a past shoot?

Steele: I can’t really sit down and predetermine what’s going to happen with my personal work. I happen upon things more instead of siiting down and deciding what I am going to shoot. I love the fact that the things that interest me to shoot are out there waiting to be discovered, and the discovery comes with altering how you perceive

F STOP: Tell us about the technical side of the Cheekscape shot, how did you create the image?

Steele: I wanted to be able to produce a large detailed end image, something that I could do as a large print with amazing detail and sharpness. This meant I couldn’t crop into the image and had to fill the frame. I was about five inches from the side of the guy’s head, and so had an incredibly shallow depth of field. I remember for that particular shot I racked the camera focus ten times from the front of his cheek to the back of his hair and then laid the files together. Everything was absolutely pin sharp and when we blew it up, we got amazing detail in the hair follicles and skin textures. For the blue light, I basically just bounced that light in off two big blue boards which were painted, letting the light come through these tiny little slits to bathe across the model’s face. Cutting the slits give you amazing control of the light because you’re only allowing a little light to come through. I used these two big packs to generate plenty of light and squeezed it through these little gaps on the boards. I am actually not a hugely technical person. For me my lighting techniques are not set in stone. This way you don’t stagnate and you can create new things as you go and happen discover new ways to light subjects. It makes it hard for the assistants because they can’t set things up before you arrive at the studio in the morning.

F STOP: Did you combine the separate images, with their different focal points, in Photoshop?

Steele: We just overlaid layers and brushed them through. That particular shot took a ridiculous amount of time to do. My retouching guy finished it off, but it must have taken maybe four or five days to match them up.

F STOP: What was the size of the file?An image from Steele’s portfolio

Steele: I think that one was probably about 2 .5 GB as a layered file, something like that.

F STOP: Was it shown in any galleries?

Steele: If I do have another landscape exhibition that it may be included in. I think it is really important to get the file size as big as possible because there may come a time when that image may be 10 feet across.

F STOP: I’ve noticed that the backgrounds in a lot of your work is quite subtle. What’s your decision making process for the color for the background?

Steele: I guess I can just feel what’s right for an image. As I am shooting something, I can feel what strength and colour the background needs to be. Most things these days are shot on white and then I’ll wash in the color myself afterwards.

F STOP: So after you shoot you’ll leave some information in the file and fix it up in Photoshop?

Steele: You have to leave some grey in the background, otherwise it’s very difficult to wash color in. The tone and quality of the background needs to be right as you shoot so that your subject matter and the background hold together. After that you can just tweak it slightly in terms of coloration. The trick is to get the photograph looking right in camera, so that retouching is more of a finessing tool as opposed to a rescue mission. Retouchers are usually not photographers as is evident by the amount of overworked crap we are seeing these days. Although a photographer will sit in and direct the retouching there seems to be too many options and no one knows when to say stop.

F STOP: What was your path to becoming a photographer?

Steele: It was my hobby as a kid. It was my mother that decided I was going to be a photograpAn image from Steele’s portfolioher when I was 14 and that was very intuitive of her. She set me up with a camera and had me get on with it. I absolutely loved it. I was a graphic designer for a little while with an eye towards photography. I left college and moved to London. I worked with an editorial photographer for two and a half years as a full time assistant and then I worked with another guy, an advertising photographer, for another three and a half years. So I did quite a stint as an assistant until I was 26 I think.

F STOP: How old are you now?

Steele: I am 38.

F STOP: So you’ve been a full fledged professional for about twelve years now. Do you do mostly advertising work now?

Steele: 90% of my work is advertising, although I suspect that will change over the next few years.

F STOP: How?

Steele: I would like to put my work out into different areas. Advertising is a really great way to earn a living, but there’s a lot of other great photography out there.

F STOP: So what kind of ideas do you have for yourself for the next couple years?

Steele: I will carry on working in advertising of course, but I’ve been starting to do a lot more portraiture although I am best known for my still life work in the advertising world. Often you get put into one box and that’s where you stay. If I want to carry on doing portraiture then I will need to look into shooting for magazines or the music industry. This may of course create new opportunities in advertising for me.

F STOP: Do you have any interest in exhibiting in galleries?

Steele: I have done and it would be great to do more. I think it’s as cut throat an industry as advertising, however. When I won the National Portrait Gallery’s Prize I was approached by several galleries, but I was very much into my commercial photography and the timing wasn’t right. Back then there was a split between advertising photographers and those who exhibited in galleries. That is not the case now.An image from Steele’s portfolio

F STOP: You just mentioned that the fine art might be as cut throat as advertising is, how have you managed to do so well and last so long in the advertising world?

Steele: I think by not doing exactly what is expected of me. I don’t spend much time looking at everybody else in the industry. Having good agents is hugely important. But Number one is working for a good photographer as an assistant. Once you’ve done that for a decent amount of time, you are ready to move on. It puts you in the right sphere, you start to meet the right people at a young age. You are exposed to the art directors at the studio and you’re soaking up all the information about how to do things by working alongside somebody that is a successful photographer. You also need to develop a way of looking at things that is unique to you. Art directors are looking for something unique in your style and thinking, not just some retouching technique, but a progressive style.

F STOP: How would you describe your style?

Steele: It’s subtle. I try to break things down without too much clutter or fuss.

F STOP: What would you describe as your inspiration for your personal work?

Steele: That’s not easy to answer off the bat. I guess it’s just getting up in the morning and going out and keeping your eyes open. I told you my favourite things are things you kind of happen upon. My inspiration would really just come from looking around. I’ve got a massive collection of art books that inspire me. Although I can’t sit and look at books for too long because I get the urge to get up and do something myself. For example….Right now I am looking out my studio window now and  there is a dwarf child sitting opposite with an old sewing machine. The An image from Steele’s portfolioenvironment is quite grubby and dirty, but if I brought that kid up here with his beaten up sewing machine into a sanitized environment things would start to happen. This sounds bizarre but he’s really there. I’m not on drugs.

F STOP: What appeals to you about shooting in the studio versus shooting on location and incorporating more of the real world?

Steele: Number one is the control that you have. Across the road there are all sorts of distractions in this kid’s environment right now. If I brought him into the studio, you’d start seeing the textures of his skin, you’d see the textures of his clothes. You hone in on very different things. I would be simplifying things. The fascinating thing for me is just him with this old sewing machine. I love texture, I’m quite anal when it comes to things like that. I want to see lots and lots of detail in things and I don’t want to be distracted by external things.

F STOP: What has been your favourite thing to shoot so far in your career?

Steele: I won the National Portrait Gallery prize years ago. The photograph was of my nephew. It’s just shot with his back to camera, and he looks really old. It won an award for portraiture and there was a big brouhaha about it because the debate was whether it was a portrait or not. The animal backs and cows have been really well received and they were hugely enjoyable to shoot. I tend to earn a living shooting rather dull objects and making them look expensive and beautiful. Advertising is great in that we are paid very well to do the job we do and it allows us the time and funds to continue to shoot personal work. Advertising is a great patron to the arts.

F STOP: What’s been your most challenging shoot?

Steele: That would have to be the New Balance sneaker shoot in New York. I ended up shooting nearly 50 ads over four years. It was a real baptism by fire being early in my career. The other photographer that was inAn image from Steele’s portfolio the running for the job was Albert Watson, so I felt a little out of my league from the off. It was challenging because there were a few technical things that I had work out on the hoof. It’s the most stressful thing I have done, but the great thing is nothing has come close to that since. Nothing seems stressful for me anymore. Once you’ve been to the point where you’re almost doubled up on your hotel floor thinking that you’re going to mess up a shoot…with hind sight it’s really good to have been through that.

F STOP: What were the technical things you weren’t sure about?

Steele: This was in the early days of converting color to black and white. And we’re talking shooting color film, and converting that to a black and white file. It never really looked that great when I tried the conversion in my studio. The results were always muddy. It’s easy these days, you just hit the curves. I remember on a phone call with the agency where I was asked whether or not this picture in my portfolio was something that had been shot in color and converted to black and white. And I said, “Oh, I shot in color and I converted on my computer,” but it wasn’t, it was shot in black and white, which is why it looked so amazing. I just got carried away with myself.  The problem was that the images for the campaign had to be shot in color and converted in post-production in order to retain the colored logo on the sneakers and have the rest of the shot in black and white. So I got out to New York thinking I don’t even know if I can do this. I was working really close with this amazing retoucher and I told him what I was hoping to achieve and even he said that it sounded a bit tricky. So he was taking all the film and going out and trying to figure out how this was going to work for me. I was ringing him every afternoon after all the models had gone home, and we’d spent another few thousand dollars that day, and I would say “How’s it going?”An image from Steele’s portfolio and he would say, “We’re getting there.” So on the Friday having done five days shooting (and spent most of our budget) he came into the studio in the morning and he had a proof under his arm. I was shooting this model and I remember looking across the studio because I was just so nervous waiting for this guy to come into the studio just to let me see that everything was alright. And he just winked at me to say I cracked it, it worked! It looked amazing, when he pulled this proof out.  It was a thing of beauty, So I basically blagged my way onto my biggest advertising campaign although I wouldn’t recommend this cavalier approach to anyone with a weak heart .

F STOP: That’s a great story.

Steele: I believe you need to take a few risks now and again to get anywhere in life.

F STOP: So what would have happened if it didn’t work out?

Steele: I don’t think I’d be here right now.

To see more of Leon Steele’s work visit his website.