by Stuart Wood Published 01/11/2012
Over many years of specialising in people photography for TV, magazine and corporate work, Stuart has developed a style that he's very comfortable with, but is always looking to improve further. Known for his mastery of lighting he picked up sponsorship from Elinchrom and The Flash Centre a few years back, something he describes as a 'wonderful partnership' since theirs was the only lighting gear that he had ever used in any case!
"After 20 years working for clients such as the BBC, ITV, Sunday Express Magazine, Cosmo, GRAZIA and the Radio Times, for whom I have now shot a number of covers, I realised that I had emerged with a set of unique skills," he says. "I've had to be technically up to speed, have needed to acquire advanced lighting skills and my entire career depends on being able to thrive under pressure: if you only have two minutes with Paul McCartney and you need to get a Radio Times cover, it certainly tends to concentrate the mind! I've also had to cultivate an ability to get on quickly with people and put them at ease, and all of these things got me thinking about whether I could apply myself to different areas of the business. "A few years ago I became aware of the way that wedding photography had moved on and I saw that wonderful photographers such as Yervant, who to me is the doyen of all wedding photographers, were shooting weddings with such passion, style and mood that it took my breath away. The beautiful and moving images that I discovered were literally a revelation for me and I became excited about shooting weddings in this new style.
"I've since really enjoyed the chance to shoot weddings using the experience I've gained from years of working quickly and to a high standard under pressure, and I truly feel that this is my unique selling point, something that sets me apart from other photographers who don't have that kind of background. I often get other photographers, some of whom have been shooting weddings for many more years than I have, asking to come out and assist me just to see how I achieve my images, and I'm so excited by being involved in this area that I can't wait to move this on to see where this can lead."
Passing on the knowledge
Stuart took the decision to launch the training 'arm' of his business during 2012, and his intention is to try to offer something different in a very crowded marketplace. "While there are definitely some great photographers out there offering wonderful learning opportunities, there are also a lot that I feel cannot deliver what they promise because they simply haven't worked at a high enough level," he says. "While I have been on quite a few courses myself, I have always researched the photographer's work first before attending their classes.
"When I spoke for Elinchrom at Focus in 2012, I was inundated with requests to start teaching, and what was particularly interesting for me was that the photographers who approached me after seeing my work all said that what they had seen wasn't being offered elsewhere."
It was while teaching on the 2012 PTO event in Tunisia that Stuart met Phil and Juliet from The Societies and it resulted in him being awarded an Honorary Fellowship. "I had previously looked at the SWPP and liked the direction that it was going in," he says. "I realised that to be involved with such a successful organisation consisting of like-minded people could be mutually beneficial, and I am certainly looking forward to getting much more involved.
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