Friday, 3 June 2011

Matthew Steeples takes a look through the lens at John Stoddart

"Bond, James Bond" - Pierce Bronsan and Famke Janssen, © John Stoddart

Sienna Miller, © John Stoddart

Photographers come and go, but only the very best make it. Solely the finest become icons. Many follow a trend but few are pioneers in this fiercely competitive field. John Stoddart, however, is a man who breaks the mould.

Born in Liverpool and having joined the Grenadier Guards at fifteen, self-taught Stoddart certainly didn’t take the traditional path to the top echelon of photography. His career has easily outlasted the average seven years that a typical celebrity photographer’s reign spans having worked for over twenty-five years in the business to date.

A first break came photographing the local music scene in his hometown, but Stoddart realized he would need to make it in “The Big Smoke” if he wanted a career at the cutting edge of magazine photography. This led to a move to London in the early 1980s and inspired by the boom-time of the Iron Lady he started to capture the “cult of fame” in his unique and now much emulated manner.

Whilst many of his contemporaries become completely star-struck, John Stoddart’s images are at ease with their settings. “I’m not about PR shots” he offers. “Professional models don’t appeal either – they’re too wooden. I’m not after just a pretty girl, though finding one always helps”, he adds with a twinkle in his eye. “The greatest shots, though, always comes from spontaneity”.

Whether it be his makeover of Catherine Zeta-Jones from TV actress to cult international icon, glamorizing Liz Hurley, capturing Tony Blair going into the deep end in Russia in a limousine or a sexy girl leaning on an Aston Martin, Stoddart believes a great photograph just appears, though not by accident. His view is that “it’s all in the planning” – much of which is inspired by the films of Hitchcock and the film noir and Bond genres.

Stoddart’s images capture events that have happened or more typically are about to happen. The iconic shot of Daniel Craig, which is one of his bestsellers, is an example. It was taken only a day before it was announced that Craig was to be the next James Bond.

Subjects Stoddart has especially enjoyed working with number Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger – both of whom, being creative themselves, were as inquisitive about the process of their respective shoots as was the photographer himself.

One man exhibitions have included Peep World (2004), the critically acclaimed Society (2006), Flowers in a Dark Room (2009), Love & Lust (2010) at Coco de Mer and most recently Shaken Not Stirred – which is still on show at Bistro K in Old Brompton Road, SW7.

Now based on the Kent coast, but often to be spotted in local hotspots PJ’s and La Brasserie, stylishly dressed Stoddart is currently working on future exhibitions and book publications from his extensive archive.

Stoddart concludes “Photography thrives on change”. The eras of Thatcherism and Blair’s New Britain were both caught on camera by him and just last month he was in Downing Street to photograph David Cameron. Though the politicians and personalities may change, there’s still much to watch out for from this suave survivor.

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Anonymous said...

Scousers should be made up that they've got someone as stylish as Stoddart as one of their own. Calm down!

The Bruiser said...

Stoddart's best work has to be his shot of Martin Scorsese: