Recently Steve Carty was invited to host an evening at Soho House Toronto as part of their Arts Programming in an event called ‘The Art of the Portrait’.
Carty, sparked by questions by the lovely Jacquelyn West, brought light to the elements that make a portrait iconic and the cultural relevance of portraiture today, yesterday and tomorrow. His perspective on the power of the portrait and the alchemy that comes together in the creation of a timeless image was closely followed by a session where Carty shot portraits live of over 50 members.
The below is an interview by the Soho House, as featured in their House Seven online magazine.
Steve Carty has shot a spectrum of famous faces, from Colin Firth and Michael Sheen to Thom Yorke and Deepa Mehta. House Seven got a chance to sit down with Carty prior to his event at Soho House Toronto.
Drawing from his 20 years in the industry, his portraits capture a moment in time and are a true reflection of his subject. Steve has shot a spectrum of familiar faces, from Colin Firth and Michael Sheen to Thom Yorke and Deepa Mehta. House Seven got a chance to sit down with Steve prior to his event.
Tell us how you got into photography?
My older brother is a painter so I had an artistic influence really early. When I was 14 my dad bought a professional camera and when I first tried shooting pictures I knew it was my thing. I got my first professional camera at 17 and all my strides from that point onward was towards becoming a professional photographer.
Who or what is the best thing you’ve ever shot?
I call them sessions. My most memorable session of late is my portraits of Colin Firth I shot for a company in Japan. Mr Firth is such a gentlemen and he loves technology, we talked a lot about iPhones and iPads.
Tell us about the equipment you use? Are you always loyal to the same camera or do you mix them up depending on the shoot?
I started off with Pentax and Canon 35mm. Then I moved into Hasselblad which is medium format. I still shoot Hasselblad and film but since 2004 Canon digital has been my main workhorse. I shoot 7D and 5D mark II.
What advice would you give to new photographers and people starting out in the industry?
First make sure that you can shoot. Too many people want to be photographers but they have no craftsmanship or desire to work towards it. Talent is talent and if you have that, find someone to apprentice. Or go to a respected photography school. Or leave the country and assist someone abroad. You need to make grand gestures these days to get into the photographic marketplace. Talent and determination.
Your job must take you all over the world – what can’t you travel without?
Aside from my 7D, which goes on every plane with me, I can’t leave home without my iphone, let alone the country. I’d also have to have a notepad and pen. And my ipod loaded with inspirational music.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from a magic place that I’m always trying to find. It comes from a higher place, and it comes from the people that I choose to surround myself with. Inspiration is alchemy. Impossible to find when you’re looking for it. I try to create an atmosphere of passion. Inspiration touches me when I linger where my passion is.
Do you feel like you have to constantly reinvent yourself as a photographer?
I have to continually reinvent new ideas, but photography itself can’t be reinvented. There have been so many before me, doing such brilliant things with a camera. As for my reinvention, how I shoot is how I shoot. There is always a thread that you can tie my images together with. If I completely changed my direction, my work wouldn’t look like mine anymore. You can change your perspective, but stylistic changes have to be handled very delicately.
You’ve taken some incredible pictures with the simple iPhone – can you give us one tip on how we can do the same?
The beloved iphone. You can take better pics with your iphone quite simply, use the grid overlay to keep lines straight and as a guide for composition. Look for light. Amazing light happens twice per day. In the morning when the sun is rising, and in the evening just before the sun goes down. Take iphone pics then. Or, pick a theme, a colour or fashion style and go out looking just for that.
If your shooting a self shot, please no duck face. Just look pleasant. And keep the camera at eye level. No looking up at your outstretched hand above your head. Your audience will thank you..