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Stef King: Finding a Voice in Portrait & Fashion Photography

Stef King: Finding a Voice in Portrait & Fashion Photography

Australian photographer, Stef King has a distinct way of capturing natural and unexpected moments, creating striking images that always convey emotion. Her incredible portfolio of fashion, beauty, and editorial photos has earned her clients such as The Times UK and Harper's Bazaar, and many other advertisements and media campaigns throughout Australia and overseas.  In this article, Stef looks back at her career, her evolution as a photographer and shares some insights for those just getting started.

“I’m a fashion, beauty, and portrait photographer based in Perth, Western Australia. I've often heard people describe me as a portrait photographer who shoots fashion, and I think that's fair to say. In my fashion work, I’m always looking for that inner story or that moment in time often captured in portraits; and in my portraits, I’m always looking for an edgy, off guarded feel found more commonly in fashion.”

“To capture those intimate moments, I love to chat with my models during my shoot. To me, it's a way to relax someone in front of the camera. I think once someone puts their trust in me, I can start to get those more intimate, natural, and off guarded moments in my images.

I always talk about inner beauty or hidden beauty. I think this means finding the model’s inner voice or inner strength in one image. Everyone has that superpower in them, and I aim to draw that out.”

“Recently, I have discovered my renewed love for hard flash studio lighting. I usually go for a very soft lighting style for my fashion and beauty work. I love the model's skin to look soft and illuminating, but recently I have been changing it up using barn doors, snoots, and gels in the shot to give a more dramatic feeling. It's good to challenge yourself and try new things.”

“I have been using Elinchrom lights for over 15 years now, and there is always a new trick to learn. I believe in the golden rule that the more you shoot, the more you play and experiment, the better you will become with your lighting and ultimately the more prepared you will be on those paying jobs!”

“Personal projects are something I love to shoot. It's a way to showcase to my clients the style of work I love to shoot. Personal projects challenge me to dig deep into what drives me as a photographer. It's hard sometimes to keep on track with them, especially when advertising jobs are coming in, but it is so important to me as an artist to keep exploring how I feel and what I am trying to say with my photos.”

“When I started shooting commercially, I was 20 years old. It was a boom time in our industry, and our small part of Australia was becoming known for having some of the top models in the world. Faces like Gemma Ward and Jess Gomes were coming out of Perth and being booked all over the world. The model agencies were putting together teams of Perth photographers, makeup artists, and stylists to shoot all their upcoming models. We would shoot 3 model portfolios a day, and every portfolio had to have a range of different looks and different light setups, from natural to studio lighting. This was where I cut my teeth on learning how to use studio lighting for models and beauty.

As the years have gone by, my lighting has evolved, and I’ve found my own style, but I believe without initially teaching myself many different ways of lighting, I would never have known what style best suited my work. So my advice to those starting out is to experiment and try as many different light setups as you can so you can discover what sings to you!”

A favorite quote: “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life” - Joan Miro.

Some final advice from Stef: “Just keep shooting, try not to get too caught up in what other photographers are doing, stick to your own path, and develop your own unique style. Photography is an incredible art form. Creating something you have imagined in your mind and bringing it to life and the ability to capture a moment in time that will never be repeated is a true gift. So, if anything, my advice is to keep your passion alive, be open to opportunity, and believe in your darn self! You never know where it can take you!”

Stef King’s current lighting kit is:

  • ELB 500 TTL To-Go Kit
  • ELC Pro HD 1000 Monolights   x2
  • Rotalux StripBox 50x130
  • Rotalux Octabox 100cm x2
  • Rotalux Indirect Octabox 150cm
  • Umbrella Deep white 105cm with Translucent Diffuser
  • Umbrella Eco Silver
  • Snoot Reflector and Grid

To see more of Stef’s work and to keep up on her future projects
Find her on Instagram at @stefkingphoto
or her website

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