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In Conversation with Stewart Bryden

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This week we put the spotlight on internationally published photographer Stewart Bryden.  Bryden has built a very impressive portfolio along his journey, with successes including: being the official photographer for the Scottish Fashion Awards, published works in the likes of Clash Magazine and RAINS Journal, as well as working with an array of clients such as HANCOCK, The House of Nines and The Idle Man, alongside Chris Millington.

Born in Kilmarnock, Scotland he’s well recognised and respected not just across the Scottish borders but beyond the UK also. However, being a freelancer in the creative industry doesn’t come easy; Stew has a natural easy going presence which not only makes him a pleasure to be around but an asset to work with too.

Bryden spoke with MFM about the struggles he has faced and how he has made his name in the creative space around him.

Was there anything specific that made you want to be a photographer?

For me becoming a photographer was a very gradual thing, I was always going to end up as a creative in one form or another but photography wasn’t always the end goal.

Originally I wanted to study fine art, but at a local college I was introduced to Analogue photography in the form of one of the course modules. From there, through to my Honours degree I slowly fell in love.

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Where did you learn your skill?

I studied photography at Glasgow Metropolitan College and then my Honours degree at The University of the West of Scotland. Post studies, I worked as a photography assistant; within the New York based studio of American photographer Ryan Mcginley while living in Brooklyn, New York.

This offered me both classic education, honing my skills in a schooled environment followed by the real industry, tricks of the trade so to speak in the studio of one of the world’s best.

And so, do you feel photography is something that can be taught to anyone or do you need a natural eye to begin with?

I feel that, yes photography can be taught but only to a certain level. A lot of what photography is – especially in fine art, fashion, or anywhere the photographer has to have their own vision – they are the artist themselves. Every image that I submit to a client or send to print has a part of me infused in it. I think photographers should have not only a natural eye or natural talent, but a natural drive to want to be better, be more and be the best they can be.

One of my fondest memories of studying is when my tutor described the difference between me and the latest punter to pick up a professional DSLR, ‘Sure they can take a nice image, but ask them to recreate it time and time again…they can’t, but you can’.

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What was your first camera?

I started studying before Digital truly took off, my first camera was an analogue Pentax ME Super, followed by my first digital a canon 10D.

What’s been the best project you’ve worked on, or perhaps a person you’ve worked with?

Working in New York for Ryan was paramount to who I have become as a working photographer. That aside, personally I have enjoyed working with the likes of ‘RAINS’, who I shot an editorial with in the highlands of Scotland in Glencoe. Reiss Menswear, whom I recently shot selected works for in Barcelona. I also photographed soul singer Charles Bradley in his home in Brooklyn, for London’s CLASH magazine.

Has there been anything particularly difficult you have faced?

I think if anything the hardest difficulty has been deadlines and clients understanding what can truly be done in a certain time frame. That said, I have always made sure regardless of the hours I’ve had to put in, I have never missed a deadline and I never will.

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Is there anyone who you would particularly like to photograph?

I always find the most engrossing images to be that of Actors. It is their job to portray different characters therefore when in front of the camera they are completely at ease and bring these characters out. In turn, I like the idea that fashion houses such as Prada, Paul Smith and Givenchy have been using high profile actors as the faces of their seasonal collections. That is something I would very much like to take a shot at. (Pun intended).

Being a freelancer isn’t easy in the creative industry; what tips do you have any tips for an aspiring photographer?

Assist photographers already working to a high level in the industry. Always remember two of the most important phrases in any business are: ‘Thank you’ & ‘Sorry’.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you will learn more from any mistake than you will from recurring success. Most importantly, persevere as no-one shoots for the likes of Vogue over night; perseverance is what I feel differs the short time players and the big boys.

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What have you got coming up for the next year? Any aspirations?

I have next season’s collections & lookbooks coming up. I fly out to Berlin, Copenhagen, Iceland & Lake Como in Italy. I’ve got the menswear summer calendar coming up (London, Paris, Milan) a solo exhibition and I relocate down south to London towards the tail end of the year. I am happily continuing to work and create every day.

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