Photographer Stuart Scott was first introduced to the Bellingen Shire when he was booked to do a shoot for Affirmations Publishing House. His story is a familiar one- that ‘Ahh’ moment, when so many of Bellingen’s current residents ‘discover’ the area for the first time. “I travelled up from Sydney for the shoot and Suzi and Dan Maher put me up at Cottonwood, their beautiful guesthouse in Gleniffer. I arrived late the evening before and couldn’t see much as I drove in, but woke up the next morning to one of the most beautiful vistas I’d ever seen. I’ve been hooked on Bello ever since,” says Stuart. Twelve months ago Stuart and his partner Mindy took possession of their 45 acre property in Thora.
Stuart’s professional photographic career has been centred in Sydney. Early on in his career he was ‘in-house’ photographer for DJ’s, which Stuart describes as “a brilliant, formative time. They had deep pockets and a commitment to creativity and quality.” He then went ‘freelance’ in the 90’s. “I’ve been fortunate to live and work in some fantastic studios. I shared with Max Dupain for a time late in his professional career, lived and worked out of an old Salvation Army hall in Leichhardt and had a waterfront warehouse in East Balmain. I think those kinds of spaces have just all gone now and become 4 million dollar apartments!”
Stuart was technically trained, but admits that his first job working as an assistant to an admired advertising photographer was very influential on his ‘photographic style’. “He had a beautiful soft lighting technique. That’s reflected in my approach I think. I look for the quality in the light and how it interacts with my subject. Others have described my style as soft and romantic. Yeah I know…hard to believe right.” Stuart refers to legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment’ when reflecting on tips for capturing the perfect photo.
“Look for it… when all the elements of composition, lighting, expression, etc. unite. In the end the actual moment when you press the shutter button on that classic image will be as much an instinctual process as an intellectual one, so don’t over-think or you’ll choke the life out of it. Oh, and be prepared to break a few rules. Took me a while to work that one out,” says Stuart. Stuart acknowledges that his photographic career has been more of a journey. “You never stop learning and growing. This is driven by a love of the craft itself. There is something wonderful about creating something that has inherent beauty and value.”
The move to the Bellingen Shire has meant less time for photography in this past 12 months. Stuart and Mindy have taken on a 45 acre farm and all that that entails. “The farm was quite run down and much of our spare time has been absorbed by wrangling it into shape. I know that sounds boring but we’ve been absorbed by it and have loved this process. There’s been smoke coming off both Mindy and I since moving to Bello, but that initial frenzy is now winding down a bit and I’m looking forward to some more time and space to start creating.” Part of the frenzy has been creating ‘The Dairy at Moo River Farm’, a stunning accommodation space for visitors to the region.
Stuart is very keen to allow the beauty of this region to weave its magic on his craft, but confesses that the greatest influence on his current work is closer to home. “I’m fortunate enough to live with the woman of my dreams in the most beautiful place on earth. Corny but true.” He is excited about the prospect of spending more time behind the camera, but has no formal jobs on the immediate horizon. “That’s one of the best things about my work. Tomorrow the phone may ring and it could be that 3 month overseas assignment. I’m ready for that. Anyone…”
To see examples of Stuart’s work: www.stuartscottphotographer.com Instagram as stuart_sphoto