in conversation with: STEPHEN ALLSOPP
Fine art photographer Stephen Allsopp is drawn to abstract and minimal aesthetics in his photography. Originally from Central England, Stephen spent many years living in Wellington, New Zealand before hopping over the Tasman in 2014 where he currently lives in sunny Noosa in Queensland, Australia. It is here where he is currently fascinated by pinhole photography and is exploring how he can grow by combining this technique with elements from his long exposure landscapes and seascapes, using the local beaches in and around Noosa as his subjects.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your background. When and how did you start getting interested in photography?
I’ve always had a camera, from being intrigued with a box brownie found in my grandparents garage as a child to carrying a simple point and shoot as a teenager and buying my first SLR as an adult on a trip to Australia in the 1990's. Like many people seems to do I started capturing what I thought were magnificent landscape images, (because it's that easy right!?!), but were in fact, rather sadly, nothing of the sort. Regardless, the experience of creating an image was addictive, and I’ve never really had a camera far away from me since. Photography is a catharsis in a way, my day job as a mental health clinician for the past 30 years, is often emotionally exhausting, perhaps that reflects in my images sometimes, but I find the peace of creating images very soothing.
What compels you to make the images you create?
It’s just a constant journey of discovery isn’t it, what can I do next? Will it work? And so on. To create something is a challenge and a great buzz. I want to try and create images that take me and hopefully the people that see my images away from reality.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Given that I live only a few minutes walk from the beach that is the place I go. There is always enough going on to interest me, and the National Park nearby is also quite spectacular and its where I go to shoot long exposures.
Who are your favourite artists or photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
I love the work of Susan Burnstine, Markus Anderson, Bill Schwab, and the pinhole work of Stefan Killen. A number of years ago I had the good fortune to become acquainted with a photographer in Vienna called Oliver Tudoras, he was the inspiration for me to get hooked into Lensbabies.
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
Everything has changed, literally nothing is the same.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
Noosa is pretty much the only place I’ve photographed over the past couple of years, and is likely to be for a while yet, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, plus Australia is so damn big it takes forever to get anywhere anyway.
How does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length? What would you say to someone wanting to start out in your genre of photography?
I’ve never cared very much for equipment per se, making the most of what you have is a good starting point I think. The pinhole experiments are just part of my evolution. I’m trying to challenge myself to capture Noosa differently, away from the typical blue-sky golden sands stuff, which is a little bland and uninspiring for my tastes. So I'm very much enjoying immersing myself in more experimental styles, playing with blur and hand held slow shutter speeds and seeing where it takes me.
Do you prefer to shoot alone or with company?
I always shoot alone, always have done. I like being alone with my thoughts and just being in the moment with my camera. It is like meditation for me.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
Does being in pretty ordinary ‘New Wave’ band during the 90’s count?
Are there any books that you have read that have inspired your creativity and that you would like to recommend to us?
Not a great many photography books, although I’m a huge admirer of ‘Rage against the Light’ by Markus Anderson. I listen to the Lensless podcast so like to find work by the people I’m listening too. I’ll read anything by Paul Auster, I love the images he creates in my head.
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
I am enjoying the results with my Pinhole, the next thing for me to do, logically is to go back to film, and eventually learn to develop and print. I think that would be extremely rewarding.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on?
Not particularly, but I’ve always held aspirations to exhibit somewhere and to maybe work on a book but I think those things are a little way off yet.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)...
...There’s music, I like to read when I have the time, just chilling, enjoying a red with friends, the usual."