The Ex-Boxer Who Is Never Going To Punch Our Lights Out
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With Bowens the results are a foregone conclusion’ – Steve Collinson, fashion photographer
Tuesday 21st May 2013
Five things you never knew about up and coming photographic ‘shooting star’ Steve Collinson:
· He’s colour blind.
· And partially sighted in one eye.
· He’s an ex-heavyweight boxer. (A burst eardrum knocked out his chances in the ring)
· He likes to use the tin lid from a Roses chocolate box to bounce light into people’s faces.
· The light meter on the Olympus OM10 camera he bought when he was 18 (he’s 40 now) is on the blink – but not to worry, he’s going to get it fixed.
Truth is the bit about the Roses tin lid isn’t strictly correct.
Under intense interrogation by Litebook, Liverpool-based Steve admitted it could just as easily be a Quality Street tin lid.
Either way, this guy is a photographic one-off. Straight out of left field. A self-taught maverick with a softbox, a couple of reflectors (‘the ones with the springy part in the middle’) and a completely unassailable ambition.
Steve Collinson is a natural. He’s never been anywhere near a seminar or joined an association like the BIPP or the MPA - but after just a couple of years as a pro his work is really starting to get noticed.
It all started in New York. He was planning on a career in boxing but took a year out to work in The Big Apple.
“I was 18. I went with some friends and we worked on construction sites”, he recalls. “I thought the city was just amazing and I felt compelled to make a photographic record of my stay there – so I bought the Olympus OM 10.
I hadn’t got a clue to be honest. I must have gone through fifty rolls of film - just pressing this and turning and twisting that.”
“I didn’t develop any of the films until we got back to England – and when I finally had them processed only THREE of the entire collection actually came out.
But those three shots, including a rain-swept image of the iconic George Washington Bridge, were just sensational. That’s what made me think about photography as a career.”
Friends saw his photographs and started asking him to shoot portraits and weddings.
He remembers: “I kept telling them it was all a total fluke but they wouldn’t listen.
Then I got my first big break when my neighbour introduced me to a friend of his who did some modelling. The guy wanted a new portfolio and he paid me £50 to do the photography.
I had warned him that I only really took pictures of buildings and landscapes, but he wanted me to do it anyway. I took him to a location and used exactly the same techniques as I would to photograph the location itself – only this time I just plonked him in the middle of it.
He showed the model agency and they loved it – so I ended up doing work for all the big agencies in the northwest.”
Then came a raft of work for regional magazines, TV, product photography, clothing stores and designers – and a ’favourite’ shoot for the Met Quarter designer clothing centre in Liverpool; “The stylist was incredible – by Gentleman from Gieves and Hawkes. I felt totally inspired throughout the entire session”, he enthuses.
Now he’s earned a reputation as one of the best fashion photographers in the north of England.
Steve does shoot digital of course- but film is still his first love.
“I did move, kicking and screaming into digital - and I confess that I do like the instant results and the fact you don’t have to go through that entire darkroom process – but I still prefer to shoot film when I’m on my own time.”
Steve’s influence comes not from other photographers but from the cinema.
“Ridley Scott said it all for me with the words: ‘My weapon is that camera. If you’re there with me, great. If not, too bad. I’ll always get the shot I want.”
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