House photographer and KC native Stuart Heidmann joined the Finefolk family a little over a year ago, after going to school and living in Chicago for the past eight years. With a detailed, artful eye and thoughtful disposition, Stuart and his talents seamlessly fit right in with the overall Finefolk feel. Here's a little interview with the photographer, where he dishes about style influences and living back in KC.
1. How long have you worked at Finefolk and how did you get connected with Leslie? I got in contact with Leslie through my stepfather, Ken Petti, who knew I would be a good fit for her team after working for two years in Chicago for the clothing company Trunk Club. I've been working for Finefolk for just over a year now.
2. What is your educational background and what got you into photography?
I studied Photography at Columbia College Chicago where I got my BFA. It all started for me with a photography course the summer before high school. Once I got all my gen ed art classes taken care of my freshman year, all I wanted to do was photography. It's the one medium that I really connected with and I ended up taking six photo courses throughout high school, even though they technically only offered two at the time. My passion for photography started with shooting film and printing in the darkroom, a more fine-art based practice, and has now evolved into a more commercial/digital realm.
3. What are your likes and dislikes about shooting fashion photography for a living? I really enjoy seeing how designers use their garments to express their points of view; its an art form in itself. I'm not the biggest when it comes to fashion or what's trending, so sometimes I think it's weird that I've been shooting fashion for the last three years. But at the end of the day, I really enjoy all the people I've been able to work with within this industry. There are some many passionate and dedicated people.
4. What is a current passion project you're working on or planning?
Lately, I've been trying to devote more time to the fine art side of my work. During college, I was working on a lot of conceptual work based on science fiction narratives, so I've been brainstorming new ideas to continue that work. That and getting back out and shooting nighttime scenes again. I've also been thinking a lot about childhood and memories now that I'm back in KC, so I'm developing some work around that.
5. What do you wish you had more time to do?
The biggest thing I'd like to have more time for is to travel and see more of the world. Some of my greatest life experiences so far come from living and traveling in Asia and a bit of Europe when I was younger. I get so inspired seeing different ways of life and having a greater sense of this world as a whole. I think travel is one of the most rewarding aspects of life and everyone should make time for it. As the Dahli Lama says "once a year go somewhere you've never been before".
6. Describe your personal style of photography.
My love for photography began with shooting black and white and my early work was based in the traditional aspects of photography: clean lines, rule of thirds; very calculated imagery. I had a very "documentary" approach and I think that has stuck with my work as its progressed. I like to make work that tells a story or provokes a sense of mystery or wonder. I'm drawn to scenes that you don't see every day, little moments of life that are extraordinary.
7. Who are your influences and heroes?
As far as influences within the photography world I would say Kahn and Selesnick's "Mars" and "Apollo Prophecies" series. I love the way Nadav Kander, Annie Leibovitz and Yousurf Karsh use lighting in their work. Richard Misrach is a big influence as well. Todd Hido's night photography is one of the biggest influences on my personal work.
Outside of photography; Carl Sagan has had a tremendous impact on my life philosophies, I wish he was still around today. Ram Dass and Alan Watts have profoundly changed the way I see the world and the skateboarder Dylan Rieder has been a big influence on my style.
8. What do you like most about KC? Dislike?
I like that KC has a very laid back atmosphere and people are more open and friendly. It's been a nice break after eight years in Chicago. I love that the local art scene here has grown so much since I was a child. It's great to see KC getting a lot of attention on that front. I love all the parks and hiking trails around KC too. That was something I always missed in Chicago.
I think the one dislike I have is that the city is so spread out and you pretty much have to drive everywhere. Whereas in Chicago, they had a really great public transportation system and I could often walk to my favorite spots.
9. What is your favorite designer or pieces to shoot at the shop?
I love shooting shoes and apothecary items. My favorite right now is the Saint Rita Parlor parfum, because it's unisex and I can actually wear it! As far as designers, Black Crane is minimal and sparse. I always enjoy shooting those silhouettes.
Stuart is our jack of all trades and we're so lucky to have him as our shop photog! To see more of his professional and personal work, visit his website.