We may be a little biased, but we’re pretty confident that when you watch one of our videos you’ll agree that we have the best damn weather in the world. That’s because we shot all of our videos on film using mostly natural light. So not only do we have some amazing landscapes, we also have some amazing views of the sky. One of our favourite things is the way the light plays across the clouds. It paints a picture that is as beautiful as it is unique.
The scenery is only part of what makes our videos so special. The other reason is the people. We get to explore some of the most stunning backdrops and capture some incredible moments, but in addition to that, we get to meet some incredible people along the way. In this video, we sit down with photographer and videographer Stewart Ozgow. We get into the nitty gritty of his approach to photography and how he creates such unique and artistic images.
A Passion For The Art
Stewart has been a professional photographer for over two decades and has worked on projects spanning the globe. He’s worked with the likes of Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and The Stereotypes among many others. He’s also worked on the set of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s safe to say that he knows a thing or two about taking pictures.
In 2016, Stewart made the switch to video and dove headfirst into exploring Australia and its unique landscapes in a 360-degree fashion. As he points out, you can’t help but feel like you’re at home when you visit this vast country especially if you’ve been there before. This is a place where you feel like you can take a step back in time and breathe in the fresh air and feel the land under your feet. This is what attracted Stewart to Australia, and it’s something we can relate to as he has also filmed here.
Stewart has a simple yet effective approach to taking photos and creating videos. He focuses on the essentials – composition, angles and lighting – and makes the most of what he has in front of him. He believes that less is more and that less is best in terms of video and photography. This is a man who has enough confidence in his work to not feel the need to embellish what he’s captured.
From The Ashes
Stewart’s approach to taking photos and creating videos definitely has its roots in the industry. As a child, he spent a lot of time watching documentaries and reading books about famous photographers. It was through these means that he became familiar with the work of photographers such as Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz. This familiarity served him well as he transitioned to professional work. It wasn’t easy to get started, but after years of working his way up from the bottom, he found himself gaining recognition and working with high profile clients.
In the early 2000s, the demand for his services increased as people started to discover the merits of video marketing and social media. It was around this time that he founded Miele London, a creative group that specialises in film, media and design. At the time, he was working on a project for Prada and had to travel to Milan for the fitting. He had his camera with him and filmed the entire process, from the first encounter to the last touch. He then used this material to create a film for Prada that demonstrated the full process from start to finish.
Prada saw the film and loved it. They then asked Stewart to travel to Hong Kong to shoot and edit the spring/summer 2016 collection. It was here that he began to question the whole notion of fashion and artistry. As much as he loved what he was doing, he realised that he could be doing more for the human race. This is when he adopted the minimalist approach to his work. He thought to himself: why should I add more elements to this collection, when this is already such a complex and time-consuming process?
Back To Nature
Despite what some people think, minimalism doesn’t mean stripping yourself of all your belongings. On the contrary, Stewart feels that less is more when it comes to material possessions and the more you have, the more you need. It’s all about minimising your reliance on material goods and returning to the basic essentials – like sunshine, air and water. This makes for a more sustainable and cost-effective way of living. We couldn’t agree more.
Minimalism In Photography And Video
It was around this time, as we’ve established, that Stewart began to question the value of the material possessions that he had amassed over the years. This lead him to become disillusioned with the fashion industry as a whole and inspired him to transition to a more sustainable and minimalistic way of life.
This transition has had a profound impact on his work. As well as removing a lot of the clutter from his life, he now works with basic materials like wood, plaster and glass to create artistic imagery and unique and memorable experiences for his viewers.
This is most evident in his series of films shot in Kyoto that examine the Japanese practice of Bizen. This entails taking a limited number of carefully selected elements and using them in a sophisticated and unique way. Everything from the framing to the lighting to the texture of the plaster is used to evoke a sense of tranquility and stillness.
The Minimalism Instinct
In the late 1990s, designers began to embrace minimalism as a way of life. As Stewart points out, people began to see less as a fashion statement and more as a practical way of dealing with the world and lessening their impact on the environment. This is most evident in the likes of Jeeves and Mr Psoi, two Greek fashion designers who began creating minimalist dresses that were heavily inspired by the designers Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
It was around this time that Stewart decided to start a blog devoted to minimalism and sustainable fashion. He wanted to create a platform for like-minded individuals who were passionate about making a difference and committed to using sustainable practices in good faith. So he started a blog called Shoreditch FoXO (SFXO). The name was inspired by a type of shoe favoured by the fashion industry that was created to make your feet look smaller. Think Dior’s iconic ‘baignoire’ – a poolside sculpture that served as a transition between indoor and outdoor living. It was originally designed to evoke the feeling of being in a spa pool.
SFXO focused on sustainable fashion and attracted a large following online. People began to follow Stewart’s lead and adopt a more minimalistic way of life. This was most evident in his weekly ‘minimalism’ posts, which now have over a million views on his YouTube channel.
The Power Of Instagram
Instagram is another vital platform for any content creator. It’s a great place to establish and grow a following. In 2019, there were over a billion active users on the platform. That’s a lot of potential customers – and the fact that they’re all actively engaged with content means that they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to say. This is a key tool for any content creator, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned professional or you’re just getting started.
On the subject of social media and how it can impact your business, Stewart points out that it’s always good to have a presence on social media, but you don’t have to have the most popular account. It’s all about being consistent and investing in quality content that will engage with your target audience.
Where Do You See Your Style?
With all of that being said, there are some questions that we just have to ask: where does Stewart’s work fit into this minimalism trend and how does he see this evolving?
In an effort to put an end to fashion as we know it, Stewart has gone back to basics. He’s simplified his approach and taken a more minimalist approach with a style that he describes as “retro futurism”. This is most evident in his use of materials and techniques that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s, but were then disregarded as ‘outdated’ and ‘futuristic’ – like 3D-printing and the resurgence of interest in craft beers. This tendency towards retro-futurism can also be seen in his series of films shot in Kyoto that examine the Japanese practice of Bizen. Here, he blends traditional Japanese aesthetics with his love of 70s and 80s culture.
What do you think? Is this a style that appeals to you? Did you have a different experience of Stewart’s work? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.