EP152 Interview With Stuart Clark - Still Shooting At 97

Sometimes it’s just a pleasure to sit back and listen.  This is one of those moments – for me, certainly, but hopefully for you too.

I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with two icons of the industry – Sean Conboy and the inimatable nonagenarian, Stuart Clark who is not only still shooting at the age of 97 but is a considerable racontour (you can hear me and Sean laughing in the background throughout!)

Stuart started his career in 1941, so his stories are not only entertaining but are fascinating as they cover every photography development from glass plate through to the state of the art digital wizardry we’re facing today.

This interview is worth listening to every one of its 90 or so minutes!



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Episode Transcript


[00:00:00] Paul: So there are so, so many things I love about being in this industry, the things we get to do, and in particular, this podcast, and one of the many things is having these moments that you’re about to hear, where I get to sit and chat with someone I’ve known for a very long time, Sean Conboy, fantastic photographer, and just a wonderful human being.

[00:00:20] And someone he introduced me to, a guy called Stuart Clark. 

[00:00:23] Now Stuart is 98 years old in July this year. Self proclaimed as one of the oldest working photographers in the country, and I’m not sure that anyone’s going to argue with that. He started training as a photographer in 1940. That makes this, he’s been working as a photographer for 84 years.

[00:00:46] And the whole of this interview is taking place in what was, his photography studio in a little town just outside Leeds. It’s his front living room, but it’s huge. It’s got a high ceiling and you can imagine how the lighting would have been hot, continuous lights and families just having the best time with someone who I learned very quickly, is a storyteller and a raconteur, uh, just a wonderful, a wonderful human being. There are lots of things to listen out for in the following interview, and let me draw your attention to just a few. Uh, listen out for the flash powder story. It’s very funnyUh, the story of, uh, People retouching, lots of retouching stories from the 1940s and billiard ball complexions.

[00:01:31] . Doing multiple jobs in a day. He used to do three or four jobs in a day, and have the timing so accurate that could include photographing a wedding. He learned his craft. He’s great.

[00:01:42] He’s spent time creating images for press, looking for alternative, alternative images and looking for PR images that no matter how much a sub editor crops them, the brand or at least the story is still very much intact. He talks about the utter love of the job and appreciating what a privileged position photographers like ourselves are in every day of the week.

[00:02:07] He talks a little about the role of agencies and how they now manage messages from companies in a way that probably they never did. He talks about relationships and he talks about being positive and persistence. He also talks about the role of the Institute.

[00:02:24] Finally, he talks a little bit about photographers always being the fag end of everything, but in the end, what he talks about really, It’s the love of his job and the love of his clients. 

[00:02:35] Why am I telling you all of this upfront? Well, this is a long interview, but the sound of Stuart’s voice and the history that it represents, as well as the fact that he’s more current than an awful lot of photographers who I know right now who are much younger, uh, but just, there’s something in his, his entire manner that is captivating and enthralling, informative and useful. And so, although it’s a long interview, I thought I’d just explain a little bit about why I found it so appealing and why I’ve left the edit almost entirely intact. I’ve removed a few lumps and bumps where we all managed to hit a microphone as we’re gesticulating.

[00:03:16] So picture the scenethere’s myselfSean and Stuart sittingin armchairs and on couches.

[00:03:27] And if you’re wondering why it took me quite so long, this interview is actually, it goes back to February of this year, and why it took me quite so long to get it out, it was partly because there was a lot of of lumps to remove and partly because it was this trip, this interview, this podcast that I was returning home from when the Land Rover blew up.

[00:03:46] And frankly, I think there’s a little bit of trauma there with a six and a half thousand pound bill to re, to replace and repair piston number two. I think my heart just, I needed a minute just to not recall it every single time I try to edit this particular podcast down. It’s a wonderful interview. Please enjoy.

[00:04:06] I know it’s quite long, um, but what an absolute legend. I’m Paul and this is the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. 

[00:04:32] So, firstly, Stuart, thank you for welcoming us into your home. We’ve driven quite a long way, uh, to come and see you. Sean, uh, recommended we speak to youbecause the number of stories you have make even his collection of stories look Insignificant.

[00:04:48] And as we all know, Sean, The Footnote Conboy has more stories than any man I’ve ever met up until probably this, this moment in time. So to kick the conversation off, how did you become a photographer?

[00:05:05] Stuart: It was an unfortunate or fortunate chain of events because, um, I was at the Leeds College of Art in 1940, 41, and I had the desire and intention of being a commercial artist, which is now referred as graphic designer and at that time, being wartime, there was little advertising being done, and so, uh, perhaps I was not sufficiently talented, but I finished up working for a firm who were essentially photoengravers, but they had a commercial photography studio as well, and they were short of somebody to join them, and I went in there and became virtually an apprentice photographer. This was very interesting because at that time, again, there was very little commercial photography advertising being done, and so all our efforts, or most of our efforts, were centred on war work, which involved going round the factories and, uh, Photographing for record purposes, the input of the particular company. And in those days, I can tell you that that was not a very comfortable proposition because we were on total blackout, and therefore, all the fumes in the factory, whatever they were, had very little chance of escaping, so you’ve got the fumes and the heat, and then of course we were only Illuminating scenes with flash powder, which was an added hazard, and, and so Photography outside in the factories was not very pleasant, but inside the factory, or in the studio, we were also doing war work, and that was to photograph silhouettes, scale models of all aircraft of both the enemy and, uh, and, uh, Home, uh, Aircraft for identification purposes, so that the air gunners were not shooting our own planes down in action. And another very interesting thing which I have always remembered was that the four, or the eight cannons In the Spitfire, that was four in each wing, were harmonized to converge at a point away from the Spitfire so that the Fire, the maximum fire point was when those two lots of cannons converged.

[00:08:34] The only reference that the pilots had was a silhouette which we had photographed, so that he could visualize that silhouette in the, aiming sight of his 

[00:08:50] guns. 

[00:08:51] Paul: a very early heads up display. 

[00:08:53] Stuart: Indeed. 

[00:08:54] Paul: Yeah.

[00:08:55] Stuart: And, so, that was quite an important element, I think, of our war work for the Air Ministry.

[00:09:03] The main factory was engraving the, conical, rangefinder cones for 25 pound howitzers.

[00:09:14] Paul: Right.

[00:09:15] Stuart: And at the time of leaving school, everybody had to be doing war work. 

[00:09:21] And so I went to the company on the pretext of doing war work of that nature, rather than going round snapping.

[00:09:31] Paul: Right.

[00:09:32] Sean: Stuart, could you also, um, I mean you’ve told me many great tales about your time actually in the, uh, armed services film unit, i think that might be quite interesting, 

[00:09:42] Stuart: Well, I was called up and because of my interest in mechanical things and gadgetry and so forth, I finished up in the Royal Army Service Corps. But a friend of my mother’s husband suggested that I applied for a trade test in photography. And one day I was called up to the orderly room and they said, We’ve got the movement order here for you. Um, to go to Pinewood Studios, of all places. I don’t know what this is about, but anyway, here’s your movement order. So, I went down to Pinewood, and we had a trade test, and I think I finished up, uh, top of the, the, uh, examination. But then I was returned to unit at Catterick, and I was up there for another few months, and then I was posted. And eventually, after about six weeks of the posting, I got another movement order to go back to Pinewood Studios, where I started my course in cinephotography,

[00:11:06] and still photography. Now, this was the last course. before Pinewood closed down and the unit closed down. I’m talking about Pinewood closing down, Pinewood was the headquarters of the Army Film and Photographic Unit from when it was formed in October 41.

[00:11:35] The course included preparation for action photography, essentially. when the course started, the war was still on in Central Europe. but before the course finishedituh, the war finished.

[00:11:58] And The Japanese War was still going on until September of the same year, which was 45. But we were still being trained, and when the course finished, we had very little to do but just wait to see what happened. And so from September to, um, December of that year, we were just hanging about in the studios.

[00:12:30] We were then posted to the Far East, in fact to Malaya, where the No. 9 unit was formed. Having been moved by Batten’s headquarters, Mountbatten’s headquarters, from Ceylon to Singapore, thought that it would be probably much more congenial there than in Ceylon, India.

[00:12:57] So number nine was there and it’s interesting to note that right at this moment an exhibition is being produced for the photographer’s gallery on Bert Hardy’s life and Bert Hardy at the time that I there was, in fact, the stills captain in charge of all the still photography in Malay Command. Or the, not Malay Command, the Far East Command, because we had outstations in Java and Hong Kong, and even, uh, one guy, uh, was in, um, in Hiroshima. So that was the formation of thetheuhFar East, Southeast Asia Command photographicuhoutfit. until it closed down, uh, in September, August September of 46, and we are then dispersed Some went to the Imperial War Museum, the Imperial, uh, war, graves Commission, et cetera, and six of us went back to Vienna, where we joined number 9, Public Relations, because unit had been disbanded completely. So, there in, uh, in Austria, we were doing what they call Local Boy Stories, and we made a couple of films on the Irish regiments and also the East Yorkshire, not the East Yorkshire, the Yorkshire regiments who were guarding and on guard duties at the palace, Shurnbran Palace, which everybody has heard of, and um, and so that carried on until, uh, the Until I was demobbed in 1947, December. came home and went back to the company I originally started with because they were compelled to take people for 12 months. And at the end of that time, I decided to leave I had a bit of a a difference of opinion with the studio manager, who was RAF, and I was Army, and I was a sergeant as well, and I don’t think he was quite that when he was in the RAF photographic section, but there was a resentment anyway.

[00:16:02] of my presence. 

[00:16:03] So, I went to the firm called C. R. H. Pickards, who were one of the finest industrial, uh, and leading industrial photographic units, companies, in the north of England.

[00:16:24] It was there, then, that I began to learn industrial photography. And we photographed all sorts of various things, from factory engineering, factories, products and so forth, lathes, milling machines, railway engines, all manner of things. And that’s where I cut my teeth on industrial photography.

[00:16:56] Sean: And, and Stuart, what sort of, um, equipment would you be using in those days? not 

[00:17:01] Stuart: so ha! 

[00:17:02] Sean: but how 

[00:17:03] would you be lighting these spaces in those days 

[00:17:05] Stuart: um The equipment that we were using was always, almost always, whole plate, six a half, eight by, eight and a half, six a half, uh, folding field cameras. when I started, we

[00:17:29] were on glass plates. But then the advent of film came in. And this was obviously much lighter stuff to carry around. And every, exposure had to count. Now in today’s terms, where you press the button and pick the best out of however many, all we used to do was a duplicate at the most. So we used to There was a variation in the exposure or the aperture setting, and that was the only difference the two exposures.

[00:18:19] So what we used to do was develop one side of the, uh, the double dark slides, see what they were like, if they wanted a little bit more or a bit less development, that was applied to second side. Anddon’t know whether you’ve ever heard of the expression of, um, developing by, uh, vision. But we used to have a very dim green light, and the sensitive film.

[00:18:59] was not, uh, sensitive to the green light. 

[00:19:03] Paul: All right. 

[00:19:04] Stuart: But you had to be in the darkroom for ten minutes for your eyes to become adjusted, and you could then see absolutely every detail of the, the development process. And when the highlights started to you, to, To show a dark mark through the back of the antihalation backing, then the development was just about right, if but if you wanted a little bit more contrast, then you just pushed it on. If it had been a dull day, a dull, miserable day, then you pushed the development on a little bit further.

[00:19:49] Sean: And 

[00:19:49] Stuart: you’ve asked 

[00:19:50] Sean: be, how would you be lighting some of these scenes? I’m very intrigued at that 

[00:19:53] Stuart: I 

[00:19:53] Sean: that 

[00:19:53] Stuart: about to say that.

[00:19:54] Um, for big areas, we used to use flash powder. And a little bit of flash powder goes a long way, believe me. But it was pretty dangerous stuff. And um, I remember we photographed a wedding on one occasion at the Majestic Hotel Harrogate. And there were 450 people. at the reception and they wanted a photograph to show as many of the people as possible. So we put the whole plate camera on a table stood up there with tray into which I poured flash powder.

[00:20:38] Now then, this was actuated. with a percussion cap, like we used to have in little

[00:20:46] hand pistols for toys. and when you pulled the release catch, that ignited the cap,

[00:20:56] that ignited the flash powder.

[00:21:00] So, the exposure was only going to be once. One exposure.

[00:21:07] And so, the photographer I was with, he said, right everybody. Look this way, and I want to be making sure that everybody keeps still.

[00:21:21] I’m going to count five for you, but don’t move until I’ve finished counting.

[00:21:29] So the idea was to take the sheath out of the slide. With having put a cap over the lens, shutter, just an open lens with a cap or a lid on the front.

[00:21:46] And the technique was to take the cap off hold it in front of the lens, so that that allowed the vibration or any vibration in the camera to settle down and then take the exposure. the idea was count 1, 2, 3, 4, then take the cup off. And on four I ignited the flash gun and then the cup went on and the guy that I was worth put the sheath back and said, right, let’s get out of here quick. The reason for that was that you got the brightness, got the, the buildup of the available lights. then it’s just topped offilluminated with the flash, not a very big one, I hasten to add. But the significance of flash powder was that there was a flame which simply went upwards. 

[00:23:00] And that was it, that was all there was to be seen. But, it produced smoke, which used to go into, onto the ceiling, and it would roll across the ceiling, carrying with it the grains of the flash powder, which had obviously changed colour from

[00:23:24] silver

[00:23:25] To yellow, that was okay. But when the waiters came to move the, uh, soup plates, what they found was a white circle on a yellow 

[00:23:47] cloth.

[00:23:51] And you can also visualize the fact that a lot of people had a lot of. Little flash powder grains in their hair 

[00:24:01] as well. well. By the time that

[00:24:04] By the time that this happened, we were halfway back to Leeds. 

[00:24:08] Sean: Very good. 

[00:24:09] Stuart: But this this was the scourge of flash powder because you could only take one shot. Because the place used to, the whole of the place, the factory, if you using a large amount of powder, made a lot of smoke, and it just collected on the ceiling and it obscured it, the vision. So, we used to use photo floods, these were overrun pearl lamps, we used to have six on a button. And if the subject was still, we could go around on a long lead and paint scene with light. And that was, and that became established, So flash balder started to go,

[00:25:08] Paul: Right.

[00:25:10] Stuart: but you see, at this time, flash bulbs hadn’t really got going.

[00:25:17] The GEC flash bulbs, which were foil filled, were about the only thing that was available. Um, in this, in this country. And they were sympathetic.

[00:25:31] And the GEC Warehouse in Leeds on one occasion, uh, a consignment of, um, bulbs came,

[00:25:43] Uh,

[00:25:44] in a, in a case, and, uh, one of the attendants decided that he would test them to see whether they were all alright.

[00:25:54] So

[00:25:54] he fired one.

[00:25:57] and 50 flashbulbs, because

[00:26:01] they had to be in contact with each other. If they were separate, it didn’t work, but when you put them side by side, they were sympathetic.

[00:26:11] Paul: What

[00:26:11] happens? 

[00:26:13] Stuart: Well, the whole lot 

[00:26:14] went 

[00:26:14] off. A whole box full of, um, flashbulbs, and they weren’t cheap at that time. 

[00:26:22] So 

[00:26:23] really

[00:26:23] that was, that was the basic equipment which we used to

[00:26:29] use.

[00:26:31] And

[00:26:32] it was all,

[00:26:33] it

[00:26:34] was all, uh, 8×6.

[00:26:37] Sometimes it was 10×8.

[00:26:41] The, uh, the railway engines, which we used to photograph for the Hunsley’s Engine Company

[00:26:47] and hudderswell Clark’s in Leeds, we always used to use 10×8 for those. Now it was interesting there because we used to have a particular date for going to photograph them. And

[00:27:04] they were all finished up in black, white and grey paint. Because that served the cost of retouching the finished print.

[00:27:15] There was very little photography done at that time. Apart from views and so forth. But anything that meant a machine, a lathe the, or whatever, it always had to go to the process retoucher who airbrushed the reflections or put one or two, put a shadow in or whatever it is. It was a highly skilled, uh, process. Uh, process, retoucher with white lines and so forth. But the interesting thing about these two railway engine companies was. that they only painted them on one side, the side that was being photographed.

[00:27:59] Paul: And

[00:28:01] Stuart: we used to go back to the studiodevelop them straight away, yes, the negatives are alright, as soon as that happened, then they would strip all the black, white, and grey paint off and finish up in the customer’s required, required colours.

[00:28:23] Paul: Wow.

[00:28:25] So, so the bit that strikes me is retouching has been part of this art 

[00:28:30] Sean: a long time. Well, 

[00:28:33] Paul: I mean, think about

[00:28:33] it, right? Because wethere’s a lot of debate about retouching and post production. That rages. Even now, but when you think about a manufacturer only painting one side of a train, they’re painting it colours that repro well, and then it’s being handed on to a retoucher, retouching’s been going on for a very long time. 

[00:28:51] Stuart: Well of course, everything at that time was, was, um, retouched, and most portraits finish up with complexions like billiard balls. There were no shadows, etc. 

[00:29:03] Paul: haha, It’s like nothing’s changed! 

[00:29:07] Stuart: Indeed. Indeed, and, and when people speak now in condemnation of, oh well you can see the retouching and so forth, well the only thing that you have to do now is to make sure that it doesn’t show. Butit was, really when Photoshop and the like came in on the scene, this was manna from heaven.

[00:29:32] Paul: Yeah.

[00:29:33] Stuart: Because it cut out the need to do the work on the actual print. To retouch transparencies was a rather different process altogether.

[00:29:48] And it was 

[00:29:49] Sean: difficult process to be

[00:29:50] Stuart: Oh yes, and very highly skilled. And the firm that I worked for, Giltrous Brothers, who were the photo engravers, they used to retouch twenty, twenty

[00:30:02] four, twenty glass plates. Whereby, when you talk about printing today, and I think the, uh, top of the range, uh, Epson, Uh, printer works in, uh, we’re printing 11 colors, but the, limited edition photolitho, uh, illustrations were, uh, certainly on, on 13 colors

[00:30:36] And from 13 separate plates. All of which were retouched.

[00:30:42] Paul: So

[00:30:42] the plates were retouched separately? 

[00:30:45] Stuart: correct? 

[00:30:45] Oh yes. 

[00:30:46] Paul: Wow.

[00:30:48] Stuart: So

[00:30:48] Paul: each of these plates is a black and

[00:30:49] white plate that’s going to take one color ink?

[00:30:52] Sean: Correct. I understood the

[00:30:52] Paul: the process right?

[00:30:53] Sean: Yeah. 

[00:30:54] Stuart: process, right? Retouches were earning more than photographers at any time. 

[00:31:01] Sean: It’s most interesting to hear this, Stuart, because you come into my era when I was learning photography and the discipline of the transparency, the 4×5 and 8 inch transparency, and of course there, retouching was an anathema because if we retouched the transparency, we started to lose some quality.

[00:31:17] Stuart: Yes. we to, it was a period of photography, I think, more than ever, when we had to get everything right in the camera because the client demanded the transparency. Whereas the processes you were using enabled this retouching method, which is very, very interesting.

[00:31:29] There are certain elements, as you well know, with your, even with your skills, whereby there are elements which cannot be lit out or exposed out or 

[00:31:43] whatever. And there has to be some artwork, or whatever you call it, retouching done. And at the end of the day, most of the photography which, which I was taking and involved with, was going to be reproduced. And so if it was retouched at source, before it got to the retouchers on the reproduction, uh, side.

[00:32:11] of the plate making, then that was, it was as we wanted it rather than what they thought it should be. 

[00:32:20] Paul: As ever photographers being control freaks. 

[00:32:24] Stuart: Well, after something like two to three years at Picards, by which time I got a fair amount of idea of what’s going on. 

[00:32:37] Um, I decided that, um, I ought to seek pastures new and became a staff photographer for the 600 Group Of Companies just on the west side of Leeds. And there I photographed secondhand machinery, which they used to recondition and I photographed the, lathes and milling machines, drilling machines and that sort of thing, and they were then printed on and they, all these were taken on the half plate camera, which is half the size of a whole plate camera, obviously, um, and, um. they were made on 6×4 glossy prints, and these were distributed by the appropriate department to potential buyers. And I was there for three and a half years. But I’d got to the stage where I’d photographed everything that didn’t move, and I was becoming rather dissatisfied with life. So I 

[00:33:49] Paul: Do you mind if I ask how old are you at this point?

[00:33:53] Stuart: this point? Well, let me seeI would be about, twenty, twenty four, twenty, what, twenty five. Right. Twenty five, six. 

[00:34:03] Paul: Right.

[00:34:04] Stuart: I was dissatisfied because I didn’t think I was getting anywhere.

[00:34:09] Sean: So you were, you were ambitious, really, to take your photography on to another level and, and have more control, would you say, over what you were doing

[00:34:16] Stuart: you could say that, yes. just say to work for yourself, Stuart? 

[00:34:20] Sean: The Thing is that the, the company that I worked for. was part of the A. H. Leach corporate, uh, company at Brighouse, which was, uh, a very big organization with studios in Cambridge, Manchester, Glasgow. Um, and the prospects of moving to any one of those places was stalemate because they were well staffed was no flexibility for moving, and so I thought, well the only way to see whether I am a capable photographer was to make it on my own, see if I could make it on my own. And in fact started the business in some premises now occupied by the local library. down at the bottom end of the village.

[00:35:19] Stuart: But this was going on for some time, two or three years, and then the question of getting married.

[00:35:27] came into the reckoning, and this house in which we’re sitting now became available, and very suitable because the front room lounge in which we now sit became my portrait studio.

[00:35:46] And across the top of the window, which is facing opposite you, was a bank of Kodak, um, lighting with five, four 500 watt lamps in each for general illumination.

[00:36:04] And So then I had a spotlight which is, was behind you for lighting the hair and then a fill in light on this side. And by this time, we’d moved on to two and a quarter square, real film cameras, 12 on 120.

[00:36:22] I hadn’t really at that stage got into, back into the industrial scene because I was doing social photography, weddings and portraitsto build up a reserve of capital to move on to buying more advanced equipment.

[00:36:44] And the changes at that time were considerable. 5×4 were on the, on the fringe. At the time that I’m speaking of, German 9×12 plate cameras were still being used for press photography. And there they were, on the touchline at Heddingley, these, the local press photographers, with box of 9×12 single shot plates freezing to death, and um, and that’s it, one off shots.

[00:37:26] But I missed the point earlier on, I think, of saying that uh, every shot had to count. Andover the years, that has influenced me considerablybecause I’ve always made sure that everything was right before I took the exposure.

[00:37:48] And whatever the, whatever the occasion was, whether it was an industrial scene or a social scene, you look at the subject before youto begin withand then start looking round and see what’s happening in the background. Becauseif you do that, it saves retouching, and that’s an absolute classical instance of today, where people, when Photoshop came, what about so and so?

[00:38:22] Oh, don’t bother about that, I’ll take it out. I can take it out in Photoshop, and I’ve heard speakers come to the Institute and talk about, Oh, I do this and do that, and I’ve said, well, how long does it take you to do that? Oh, well, a couple of hours or so, like that. It could have all been addressed in the taking, and that would have been eliminated.

[00:38:51] And when you talk about 2 or 3 hours retouching, well how much do you charge for, oh well I’ll throw it all in.

[00:39:00] And the number of people who I’ve heard say that, oh well I’ll just include it. I think they’ve got a bit wise to it now because Uh, any extramural activities are chargeable by the hour, and, uh, and it’s certainly in need of that, but what I would say to any in, up and coming photographer, they need to sure of what it is that they’re taking to avoid having to retouch it afterwards, albeit that in today’s terms,

[00:39:40] With the relaxation of dress and disciplines and so forth, Um, I don’t think it quite matters. And so, I think as far as today is concerned, I would find it difficult to go back to being a photographer in today’s terms. Because, I can sit in a restaurant or in a room, somebody’s room or whatever, and I’m looking at the, the vertical lines of the structure to, to see whether that line lines up with that, and it’s surprising how often I can see lines that are out, even buildings.

[00:40:27] I could see buildings thatthat were not, um, vertical. completely vertical and line up with the I sit there looking at the streets and doors and windows and it’s very, it’s very difficult to get out of that discipline into the much more free and relaxed attitude towards photography today.

[00:40:56] I don’t know whether I, whether you would agree with that or not.

[00:41:00] Sean: Stuart, I would agree with what you’re saying and it’s like the photographer’s eye, your whole life has been trained by your eye viewing scenes and viewing situations and it’s quite impossible to turn that off really.

[00:41:10] That’s part of you and how you see things, so no, I couldn’t agree with you more. So Stuart, tell me, you obviouslythe room we’re in now was your studio, and you’re in hereyou’re now married, you’re doing more social photography, as you said, and obviously starting to make money. Where did the business go from there?

[00:41:29] What was your sort of next stage reallyBecause I believe you had another studio then in the village, is that correct? 

[00:41:35] Stuart: The children grew up and we were running out of room space,

[00:41:40] So an opportunity came in the main street down the road to take over a building, um, which I was able to use the ground floor and turn it into a studio, a reception studio and darkroom. And, uh, during that time, I was doing, um, mainly social photography, but also, I had got associated with the local newspaper which circulated in this area, and I virtually, without being on the strength, I virtually became the staff photographer for the whole of the circulation area.

[00:42:32] So on a Saturday in the summer, it was not unknown for me to do perhaps 11 cover 11 eventualities such as garden parties, a flower show, etc. and also fit in a complete wedding. So,

[00:43:00] Paul: So, 

[00:43:00] Stuart: so

[00:43:01] my time, my, my mind used to work like a, like

[00:43:07] a clock, uh, a precision clock, because it was, it was timed to the nth degree. Um, what time is the, uh, what time is the wedding? How long will the service be? Where’s the reception? And I had a mental, uh, mental, uh, memo of the distance from here to thereand the length of time it takes to get from, from there to there.

[00:43:36] And, as far as theas the newspaper is concerned, I tried to take a different picture. at each occasion, so that we don’t want the same picture of women serving tea, uh, for the WI, the church of this and that and the other. Um, I tried to make a different picture. So that training and experience fitted me in good stead for when the industrial scene tailed off.

[00:44:15] Sean: I’ve just, uh, I’ve just, um, picked a photograph up here.

[00:44:18] Stuart’s got quite a number of his photographs in the room with us here. It’s a very nice PR, press type shot here of Harry Ramsden’s Fish and Chips shop, and it’s got a very 1980s mobile phone and the world famous in this part of the world, Nora Batty which some of you may know from a famous last of the summer wine tv show and i think this is to do with the flotation of Harry Ramsden because it became quite a successful company didn’t it so talk a little bit about this photograph Stuart it’s very captivating and i think very very well executed

[00:44:50] Stuart: Well, the story as you’ve already identified, I’m surprised that you have, because that was when they went public. And, uh, the, story was the Harry Ramsden fish restaurant, which, it was the center of all activities, just on the outskirts of Leeds, and they, as you said, they got Nora Batty there, who was a very leading personality at the time, and, of course, telephones, you can see the size of that, that mobile telephone, which is about the size of a half of a brick. Um, this was the, um, the story. And the essential thing was to locate the seed of the picture with the name of the, the company. across the top of the, the print or the format.

[00:45:46] Sean: And if I could just butt in there Stuart just to say sorry to do this but I think it’s important to get this across that I’ve just picked this image up and the story has come straight across to me. We’ve got the mobile phone. You’ve got the Financial Times, which is holding the fish and chips. You’ve got the sort of banker type chap behind her.

[00:46:02] It just shows the skill that’s gone into that picture, that an image is telling that story to me all these years later. Because I presume this photograph is 30 or 40 years old, Stuart. Am I correct there? 

[00:46:12] Stuart: It’s quite a long time. And the essential thing about that picture, uh, Sean, is that however much a sub editor chops it down. There was always be something of the story there, because the nearest or the furthest down that they could chop it would be across the top of the bloke’s head, but it would still say Harry on the left hand side.

[00:46:42] And, and, that was the, the art of, at that time, of getting the story across for public relations. Include the company’s name or the brand in the background somewhere so that it had to be seen and it couldn’t be taken out. 

[00:47:03] Paul: I ask you a question? Have you always loved being a

[00:47:06] Stuart: being a photographer? Oh, absolutely. 

[00:47:09] I wouldn’t do anything else. Um, had a very enjoyable life in every aspect of it. And I’ll tell you one thing about it, and Sean will agree with me on thisPhotography, photographers are in a very privileged position, and they don’t realize how much so. Because so often, they are in, at the ground floor of activity. A conference, a confidential conference projecting the aims of the company.

[00:47:46] I was in a company when I was in the conference actually, when the whole of the regional bank managers were in a conference at Harrogate, and they were told then, that we were going to dispose of the buildings, our assets, and I photographed several banks which were up for sale and they were simply being sold off. The managers didn’t know. What’s the photograph for? Oh, it’s just for the estate. I knew what they were, why they were selling it. It was going on the market.

[00:48:25] You know all these little convenience grocery shops and so on, on filling stations, I was in the conference there for all the ESSO managers in the region, when the the project was put to them that we’re going to put these little kiosks, or whatever it is, and, and, and there I was. Um, and we were privy to information that was light years ahead of the actual official announcement.

[00:48:59] Paul: Yeah.

[00:48:59] Stuart: Metahall, for instance, um, I was in the conference when they were talking about what their footprint was needed to be to make that viable. And there are several instances such as that. And you do get it to a more personal level, where we’ve got, uh, injuries, personal injuries to photograph.

[00:49:26] Oh well, what about Snow?

[00:49:29] Well,

[00:49:29] And you just can’t get involved with passing that or repeating that information.

[00:49:35] Paul: Yeah.

[00:49:36] Stuart: It’s confidential. And as I said, photographers are so often right in the heart of things. And I’m sure, Sean, that in today’s terms, you’ll be more exposed to it than I was with them.

[00:49:51] Sean: Well, very much so Stuart.

[00:49:52] Very much so. Yeah. I mean, it’s, I can’t tell you how many NDAs I’ve signed in my career, soyeah, absolutely. Absolutely. 

[00:50:00] So Stuart, so you’ve now got the studio, thethe biggest studio now on in thein thein the village here. And you’re obviously doing your social, your weddings, you’re obviously doing a lot of PR.

[00:50:11] Did you start to do, did the industrial photography come back a little bit more as well?

[00:50:15] Stuart: Yes But I was, I was extremely fortunate and the odd thing about it was that the connection came through the, uh, the work of the local paper because three miles from here was the control room for the Central Electricity Generating Board and they were having an open night and the local paper was invited to to cover the, the event. So I went along and took a few photographs of whatever was going on and had a bit of a look around the place and subsequently then I was approached by their, their public relations department for the northeast region. Would I take a photograph of something else? 

[00:51:13] From that stemmed the work, which really became the mainstay of my activities with the Central Electricity Generating Board.

[00:51:26] Again, I wasn’t on the staff, but I was vir, virtually became the staff photographer for the Northeast Region. And the amazing thing is that here I was, photographing power stations, the grand openings of power stations, starting with Thorpe Marsh, which was the, down in Doncaster, which had two 400 megawatt sets, which were the f The Forerunner, they Thorpe Marsh was really the testbed for the, um, the 400 megawatt stations which followed.

[00:52:13] And there again, this was being in on the ground floor whenever there was a fault down there or whatever. or a problem, um, I was called in to, to, to take the photographs. 

[00:52:27] Sean: So

[00:52:28] Stuart, would you say that, um, he’s very interesting listening to this about how your business built. Would you say that networking was a great part of building your business?

[00:52:37] Stuart: Networking, well they call it networking now, and it’s, it’s contacts really. And I think, I’m sure that you’ll agree that being in the right place at the right time, and that really applies to anything, the theatrical world, et cetera, and, not necessarily knowing the people, the right people, but getting on with them, and being able to mix with people, and behave in a way that people expect you to. So 

[00:53:10] Sean: Would you have any sort of advice or tips for a young photographer or somebodnew breaking into photography and how to. build a business? Have you anything to add there at all? 

[00:53:22] Stuart: I think that in today’s terms, it is extremely difficult for photographers. And I’ll tell you why, because I think that the opportunities which I just mentioned are remote, probably remote in the extreme. Social photography is something else, and the, the website, and all the various media opportunities, with which I am unfamiliar and have no knowledge of because I’ve not had the need to do it. But I am aware because I look at what people are doing. And that’s another instance of success. Of keeping an eye on what other people are doing. If you admire anybody’s particular work, then that sets the example and the criteria to work to. But as far as going back to contact is concerned, I have the distinct impression now that not only photography, but everything now stems from public Relations and I don’t know whether you’ve noticed it or not, but if there’s, if there are any problems, on the one hand, of people’s behavior or their activities, or whatever it may be, adversely or favorably, and the promotion of brands and industries and business, it all seems to stem now very much from the agencies. 

[00:55:12] If you read question of the so and so company are going to introduce this product or

[00:55:22] service or whatever it is, or they’ve taken over a business. the

[00:55:27] statements attributed to the managing director or chief executive or accountant or whatever it is, right across the board, a great many of the people that are being quoted, I would suggest, are not capable of speaking and thinking the way that the statement appears in print. And it raises sometimes, a lot of suspicion as to just what is behind this thing. This business with the post office. It’s full of it. And so the point that I’m making is that advertising agencies, that’s another one, the advertising agencies are in direct contact with theumwith the brand or the company.

[00:56:24] And so the opportunities of the photographers, in my judgment, are minimized because of the hold. that the advertising agencies have on the job. 

[00:56:43] And 

[00:56:43] they, 

[00:56:45] they will say who they want and who should be employed. They may think them best or otherwise. And it also then comes down to, rights, and I bet you are right in the thick of this, that, uh, you are the, the favorite bloke on the, on the block, and whilst ever that person is engaged in that company, your situation is secure. But suddenly, if he goes to pastures new, and they’ve already got their established photographers, as far as you’re concerned, you’ve lost that company.

[00:57:28] Sean: Very 

[00:57:28] Stuart: company. 

[00:57:29] Sean: very true. Yeah, yeah. 

[00:57:30] Stuart: Is it true?

[00:57:31] Paul: But there’s always opportunities with these things, I mean, in the end, there are more photographs being created today than ever historically, I think you’re right about the structures of advertising agencies, though this isn’t my world, when someone moves on, there’s an opportunity, and there’s always the opportunity to stay as well, there is risk, of course there’s risk, but equally, you could be the guy he takes with you.

[00:57:54] So how do you make that happen?

[00:57:56] Sean: Well, I think it’s very apt because I’ve had two or three key clients in my career that have moved numerous times, you know, seriously big companies and they’ve taken me with them, yeah. And not only that, in some cases, they’ve taken me to their new company. And it’s gone well. They’ve then moved on to another company and taken me with them, but the company they’ve left still retains me.

[00:58:19] So there’s a benefit that way. But I think it’s really, I greatly believe in the, in the networking, keeping in touch with people, making an effort at all times. And I think, I know we’ve got today’s digital world and there’s lots of advantages to that, but also personal contact I think is still really, really important.

[00:58:38] Relationships and personal contact.

[00:58:40] Stuart: What you are saying is, is correct. And I remember an uncle of mine who was a milkman and, had a, a big dairy, and he once said to my mum, oh, well, it’s so and so, he’s come again, a rep has come. It’s been three times, so really it deserves an order.

[00:59:03] There’s a 

[00:59:04] lot 

[00:59:05] Paul: in

[00:59:05] Stuart: a lot in

[00:59:06] truth in that, backs and it backs up what you were just saying, of keeping in contact, and, of course as far as advertising is concerned, or mail shots. the first one they take no notice of and throw away. The second one, oh well, there’s another one from this so and so. The third oneit is usually reckoned that the person will be activated by that And so, as you said, keeping in contact is very important.

[00:59:42] But I’m bound to say that breaking in a lot of it is by accident, but certainly the persistence of contact is very important.

[00:59:56] And when you consider, you see, over the years we have thought of Only the Institute, or I have, and I’ve doneI’ve put a lot of time and work into it, as other people have, without which we might have been a lot more better off or a lot wealthier than we in fact are.

[01:00:20] Sean: Stuart, did, did, when we say the institute, it’s the British Institute Professional Photography we’re talking about here. And II’m a member too, and that’s how I met Stuart through the institute. Through your long career as a photographer, how important did you find the, The Institute and the ability to mix and talk and, and, and work, you know, get information from other photographers, I suppose.

[01:00:41] How important did you find that 

[01:00:44] Stuart: Photographers, um, are, as you know, very, very much individualists. they work a lot on their own, and when you consider that there are probably 7 or 10, 000 practicing photographers in this country, and so few of them belong to anything. 

[01:01:10] It makes you wonder how all those people survive. butit really comes back toto, uh, what we were saying earlier, of contactthose people must be in contact with other people.

[01:01:29] Their reputation goes before them, obviously, and when you consider the situation with the Royals, for instance, who, from time to time, have official photographs taken, um, by names that I’ve never heard of, where you would perhaps expect that they are members of the, this organization, the Royal Photographic Society, as a case in point. Um, these people are not members of them and so how they I’m not talking about the Litchfields, I’m talking about the other people who officially, officially photograph, uh, in recent times, the, um, William and Kate’s family, the, their birthday or whatever anniversary it was. So, those people, um, are plowing their own furrow.

[01:02:33] But going back to the the meaning of the institute, whereby people are individual, the opportunity over the past years was for all these individuals to rub shoulders with each other and the networking that went on then. For instance, you go to a meeting and you’re chatting away, and a couple of blokes have a common, common interest, uh, uh, or they’re equal practitioners, but suddenly, one of them comes up with a problem that he can’t answer, and so he’s able to phone this guy in Nottingham, or wherever, because he is not in competition down the street. He can’t ask the guy down the street how to tackle the question, but the man in Nottingham will willingly bare his soul for you, and keeping in contact with, um, with other people to solve problems where they have them is incredibly useful, in my judgment. 

[01:03:49] And alsoit may be with a particular technique or idea. Oh, well, I’ll show you how to do it. And photographers, generally speaking, are very open with each other. In my recollection, especially if they’re not in competition 

[01:04:07] with each other, just, 

[01:04:09] one or two streets away.

[01:04:14] I don’t know if that answers your question. 

[01:04:15] Sean: Yeah, think it does Stuart, yeah, it’s very, very interesting, I think it does.

[01:04:19] does, 

[01:04:19] Stuart: And, and, also, when people, when photographers are starting up, um, And they lack confidence, and you and I have a mutual acquaintance who fits that, uh, scene well. They lack confidence because there is no, there hasn’t been, and I think The Institute are trying to introduce business and business methods, which think is greatly commendable.

[01:04:57] And all the things that we’re talking about now, if be given over by the, um, by the organization of the Institute. The stock, I think, would be, rise and be considered to be very valuable.

[01:05:18] I come back to saying though, against that, there all these 10, 000 people who are getting on very well without. people who do, um, they be given guidance, 

[01:05:37] Norman, Norman Cooper, who I mentioned earlier on, he had, uh, he, there was a conference at Oxford University, of which I was part of, but Norman was talking how to cost out your services,

[01:06:01] And one of the simplest things was the hourly, you’ve got the hourly rate or the day rate, whatever that may be, and you can produce those two figures, but what does it mean?

[01:06:17] And he said to arrive at your fee, daily or weekly fee, find out how much you want to earn at the end of the day, and work back from there.

[01:06:37] And when you’ve worked back from your earnings, your overheads, your costs, your expenses, tax, etc, etc. And then you come back to how much do I need to charge for a day or an hour against those costs?

[01:07:00] And bear in mind you are working on a 40 hour week, perhaps, and now everybody else is going on to a four day week. How people are going to justify the cost that is required to meet all the costs that I’ve mentioned, there’s hardly probably no way about it. I remember the managing director of Hoover, on the radio one occasion, and he said, the Hoover vacuum cleaner, we worked out how much it should cost to make them and sell them and sell them and so And he said, the figure that we arrived at was that nobody would buy them at the price they buy them, so therefore they had to be down, and this is the same with photography. At the end of the day, how much are people prepared to pay for your service and or product?

[01:08:10] So, it isn’t just that easy, oh, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll charge so much.

[01:08:20] There is somebody who is another, a mutual acquaintance. income went up, according to what you told me either four or five times what he had been earning or charging before his situation or circumstances changed. Peoplenever mind how much is the right price to charge, but people can undervalue their product. And it’s the same with whether you’re working for yourself or em, or employed..

[01:09:05] Well, how much are you worth? I think probably that, in general, photographers are, in my book, are always at the fag end of everything.

[01:09:19] If you go through thethethe rolling titles on films, I’ve known photographers, I’ve seen photographers listed under best boys. Best Boy, Second Best Boy, Improving Best 

[01:09:41] Boy, 

[01:09:41] Camera. It’s on every night on the television.

[01:09:48] Paul: Um, I could listen to your voice – the privilege I have doing this recording is I’m sitting here on and just listening to your voice is a real thrill but I’m acutely aware that I’m in the presence of two great photographers who are immensely successful, immensely popular. And my observation would be that both of you are very warm characters.

[01:10:16] But I’m going to ask this question of both of you. 

[01:10:19] I believe we all have some superpower, whatever that might be. for each of you, given your success. What is your superpower? What is it about you, individually, that you think has made you the success that you’ve been?

[01:10:38] Stuart: far as I’m concerned, I, I like people. and I can get along with most people. And I don’t think there are many people who I’ve ever said a really wrong word against. It’s probably because I’m a Leo. 

[01:11:01] it

[01:11:01] Paul: So only 1 in 12 of us have that talent, is that right? 

[01:11:04] I 

[01:11:05] Stuart: That’s probably the rub really. Um, and I, I think that Leos like to be at the centre of things. Um, and, and there it is. Andand this is the reason why I’ve been involved with the Institute for so long.

[01:11:24] Um, I’m a member of the Leeds Audiovisual Group. I was a regional organiser for the Royal Photographic Society Audiovisual Group for 25 years. And, er, organising, I don’t know whether either of you are aware of this. of Konica Awards. Konica Awards stem from the fact that on this organisation, this, this region along with Lancashire I, or Western Region I’ve got to, to say. Um. who were our nearest rivals. Um,

[01:12:09] I said It’s been like 

[01:12:10] Sean: Roses, yeah?

[01:12:12] Stuart: As to who was best 

[01:12:13] But what happened was that we used have the regional conference, and those were held at Harrogate. Um, don’t think they were quite annually. But 

[01:12:31] do you remember John Mills? 

[01:12:35] I rememberJohn Mill coming to the region when he was president and said the institute must stop meeting in pubs.

[01:12:50] And from then on we used to have our annual meetings, or monthly meetings. ten a year hotels in the city and then it came to regional conference and we used to go to the Swan Hotel in Harrogate and there we set the stall out. It was over the weekend, uh, overnight accommodation. trade show, lecture, talk. We demonstrated, this is how far back it goes, we demonstrated colour printing on stage of the ballroom in the Swan Hotel. And how it happened was, this is going back to the very early days, of 20×16, uh, colour prints. Andwhat happened was that we had a studio set up on one half of the stage and Ken Heaney, who was a member at the time, photographed his wife.

[01:14:13] But before that, we had Steiner’s, um, hairdressing team from the Queen’s Hotel to arrange her hair and so forth, went up onto the stage, took the photograph, closed the curtains, then on the other side of the stage ostensibly had a photographic darkroom, where, where, film was processed and the print was made, and, and then at the end, the curtains went back on the other side and there this 20×16 finished colour print in the gold swept frame. 

[01:15:03] There were 140 people, blokes, in that room, and they stood. and gave them, gave this whole thing a standing ovation. When, when Roy, Roy, Roy Dorbar, Dorbar came over and did his wedding photography, we had lapel mics, loudspeakers outside, and everything came over.

[01:15:33] We were ahead of the field, but going on to Konica Awards then. We thought that this was so good, and we organised the Three Regions Conference, which was, uh, North West, East, North East, and Yorkshire. And that was, um, at the Cedar Court Hotelon the edge of the motorway at Wakefield. And we called it Konica Awards.

[01:16:08] Because Tony Kirby, the chairman and I at the time, went Konica and said what we were going to do and we could, we needed some funding, and they said, how much do you want? And so that was the first Konica Awards in wakefield when three regions filled the place.

[01:16:38] The second time we did the Konica Awards and we called it the four regions and we had entries and members coming from Scotland , we had it in, um in uh, Glasgow.

[01:16:58] So, this is the way that this region uh, has uh, thrived, and it’s been a big part of my working life alongside earning a living. 

[01:17:15] Paul: so, uh, I’d suggest there’s a second superpower, which is storytelling.

[01:17:21] I don’t think that’s related to your birth sign, I just think you’re a storyteller. So, Sean, over to you. Are you a Leo?

[01:17:29] Sean: No, I’m not. I’m 

[01:17:32] Paul: to do with your birth sign. 

[01:17:33] Sean: Aquarian. Um, it’s a very interesting question actually that, and uh, obviously first things come into your mind, oh I know how this technique or that technique, but no, it’s not, I, In my sphere of photography, which is architectural, interior, corporate photography, I think it’s about, a little bit like Stuart, it’s about getting on with people.

[01:17:53] Because one of the things I’ve discoveredit’s getting, you know, and as you know, I travelwork a lot internationally, so you work with different nationalities. different cultures, different people, but it’s all about getting on with people, getting them on board with you, and then they assist you to get the picture that you require.

[01:18:10] Because if you can get that cooperation, you can get maybe to a viewpoint nobody else can get to, or you can get that space laid out exactly how you want at the right time of day when the light’s coming in the right way. So it’s getting people on board. And one of the

[01:18:25] I’ve so enjoyed listening to Stuart this morning, but one of the things I love about photography is the way people react to us as photographers.

[01:18:32] I mean, you guys, more than me being social photographers, what people will do for us never fails to amaze me because we’re a photographer. So I think it is a superpower. It’s getting people to do what you want them to do to enable you to get the image. Because at the end of the day, It is a competitive world, I think Stuart picked up on this, and you’ve just got to elevate that quality in whatever way it may be, and sometimes it’s the organisation of your photography that does that, so, I think that’s probably the superpower I would go for. 

[01:19:02] Stuart: Really, you’ve you’ve got to be interested in, in people, if you’re in, on the social side. But also, equally, when you are meeting captains of industry, it isn’t just bricks and mortar.

[01:19:24] It’s, it’s his relationship to the, those bricks mortar and what’s involved

[01:19:33] And even, and, works managers, uh, contract managers, they all

[01:19:42] are, it’s, it’s part of their life and if you can have an empathy with that, it bridges the, And they have confidence in what you’re going to do. You know what you’re about, and can you portray that to the person that’s, as you said, photographers, there they are. And people don’t know what they’re going to get.

[01:20:16] But if you can bridge that gap, and, and I’m sure that, as far as you’re concerned, there are people that you know who’ve become friends.

[01:20:31] Sean: Absolutely, yeah. 

[01:20:33] Stuart: I, I, um, did a lot of, um, road construction, um, M1, M6, etc. Um. And I became very friendly with one of their, uh, managers. Um, so much so that, um, his family and my family, we went boating. We hired a cruisers on the Great Ouse for a week or a fortnight. So, those relationships do build up.

[01:21:13] I used togoing back to the days when we had purchase tax. Purchase tax, and I got even friendly with the guy who used to be the inspector. I went to his house on one occasion for, for dinner.

[01:21:33] So, there it is. 

[01:21:36] Paul: Yeah. no, I’ll be honest when you, it doesn’t, it didn’t surprise me in the slightest that you said people skill in answer to my question, but I did feel quite emotional about it because it’s, for me, it’s fundamental.

[01:21:50] I mean, I know it’s social photographers, it’s core. I don’t think you could get too far away from that, but I think any photographer who has clients, it’s core or it should be. 

[01:22:00] And. As an aside to that, we were talking a little bit of the past couple of days about the role that associations play. So, the three of us, the associations have all been integral to everything we’ve done.

[01:22:16] But there’s a difference in why people join and why people stay. And the reason people stay, the reason I’ve stayed is because of people like Sean and getting the opportunity to meet people like you, Stuart, it’s the networking and even, even though this is an audio recording, right? There’s no visuals. I’ve learned so much about photography as a craft and photography as a business. And I’m listening,

[01:22:40] I’m learning through my ears, which you’d think is completely alien, but actually the conversations we had last night. Over a beer. Every time I’m in the presence of the people I’ve met through the associations, I’ve learned something and I don’t think you can put a value on it. 

[01:22:56] For me, it’s my life. 

[01:22:58] For 

[01:22:58] me It’s well, It is, it is, It’s because actually it can it, it can be quite solitary. . You can spend a long time sitting on your own, in a room looking at a computer screen, but that’s completely offset by the days like I’ve just spent the two days 

[01:23:14] in the 

[01:23:14] Sean: you, and Stuart quite rightly said earlier on, at any one time we can pick up the phone to one another, which we do, and, and, and answer a question or just have a conversation.

[01:23:24] And, and it’s an important thing, and that’s something I feel the associations can help us all with, really. 

[01:23:30] Paul: I do as well.

[01:23:31] Um, listen, much as I could sit and I would sit and listen for another couple of hours of storytelling. Uh, I’m not going to because at some point I’ve got to clip this down into a podcast 


[01:23:43] Paul: And and if you think post production on prints and images is tough going, you know, when you’re sitting there scrubbing backwards and forwards through an audio file.

[01:23:51] Uh, so I’m gonna bring this to a close, and I just wanted to say thank you. So, Stuart, what you, what you can’t see, dear listener, is that Stuart is waving his finger at me because he’s clearly got one last footnote. You’ve been out footnoted, footnote. In this 

[01:24:05] Sean: In this case

[01:24:06] I am happy to be out footnoted by my dear friend Stuart.

[01:24:11] Stuart: The one thing that’s surprising  

[01:24:13] Paul: Are you sure

[01:24:13] it’s one thing, Stuart? Are you sure? It’s just the one? 

[01:24:16] Stuart: Um, This is the final, my very last  word, my last, of my life. 

[01:24:22] Paul: I don’t think so

[01:24:23] Stuart: My last territorial claim. Um, it does surprise me that, um, you haven’t mentioned the fact that, uh, probably, and I haven’t any means of knowing this to contradict it, I’m probably though, one of the the oldest, the only, and the oldest working photographer who is of an Institute membership and still has an interest in the Institute and all that it’s doing and all that everybody else is doing.

[01:25:13] You probably are aware that my birthday in July, the Leo,will be my 98th.

[01:25:28] Paul: Well, I had been told, but I felt it was rude to bring up your age. Also, what’s lovely about the fact it’s not your age. It’s the fact that your stories go back so far, but sitting here meeting you, it’s no different to meeting every other photographer. The age isn’t a conversation.

[01:25:45] Sean: I concur. 

[01:25:46] Paul: and what there was something I, and this is a portrait photographer’s thing, and I’m hoping that Stuart will appreciate this. When I met you for the first time, cause I’ve only just met you, this is. Uh, first meeting, you met me in the corridor and the first thing that struck me. It was a glint in your eye

[01:26:07] and that’s an age thing, that’s just, that’s a people skill. Because the minute you opened the door, the minute we walked in, just your body language, the way you carry yourself, your smile, actually is in completely welcoming, completely engrossing and Sean, you have it too. And I think there’s a commonality in many successful photographers that they’ve learned. it may not even be a learnt skillit may be that they already did this and learnt how to attach photography to a human skill. I’ve no ideamaybe people do learn it, but all I can tell you is age was never part of this conversation.

[01:26:43] Except that the stories go way back, which is really, really interesting. So, uh, I am, I am aware of your age, but I just didn’t bring it upsorry about that.

[01:26:55] Uh, on that happy note, I am going to round it off, unless, oh Stuart, it’s, I can see. go on. 

[01:27:02] Stuart: No, I’ve nothing more to, to add. 

[01:27:05] Paul: that’s such a lie, you’re now holding back.

[01:27:09] Stuart: Well, you’ve, you’ve already said that, uh, you’ve got a big job in, um, in cutting it down to manageable level. So, I could go on, I could talk for England as you can realise that. 

[01:27:22] Paul: I got that.

[01:27:22] Um, I’m not sure I’m going to cut it down. I mean, you know, I don’t know even whether, I don’t know whether this piece will stay in the bit where I’m talking about what I’m going to do with it. Um, it may or may not. Um, because actually, I think this is one where I’ll leave it absolutely raw. Because just Listening to the stories and your rhythm and pace, the way you’ve delivered them. For me, as someone who’s really intrigued by the sound of someone’s voice, uh, I will probably keep it very much intact, but I will have to go through it and check that, you know, a couple of times I’ve hit the mic, coughed, you’ve hit the mic, Stuart’s hit the mic. I’ll have to take those bits out. anyway 

[01:28:01] Stuart: I think you’ve got to recognise everybody has got to recognise that they have to be interested in what they are doing and the people that they are engaging with. It isn’t just a casethe problem is that it’s breaking the barrier between the mechanics and bridging the distance between the individual.

[01:28:32] And, and if you’re talking about personalities. But if you’re talking about a product, or a service, you’ve got to be interested in what the end product is and it’s use.

[01:28:48] The food photography is fabulous. It doesn’t just happen. at the other end of the scale, you then have got the criminality elements.

[01:29:00] And you can get the people who do research photography. It’s still photography at the end of the day, whatever the end product is. But unless you are particularly interested, then I don’t think you should start.

[01:29:18] Paul: And I think that is a perfect end. to this podcast. He says, staring intently at Stuart so that he doesn’t raise his finger and introduce

[01:29:27] another story. You sit still, alright? Shush!

[01:29:32] Thank you for getting to the end of this podcast. What a privilege it’s been for me, and I hope you can feel the warmth in the room because it is genuinely a pleasure to sit with Sean Conboy and Stuart Clarke in Stuart Clarke’s little house. Which wasthis room was once, and I can imagine it was a brilliant photographic studio with a huge high ceiling and just a really lovely atmosphere to it.

[01:29:53] Um, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please do subscribe, wherever it is that you get your podcasts. Uh, in honour of Stuart and Sean, please do leave us a review and some five star ratings, it would be really nice if you did.

[01:30:04] And of course, head over to masteringportraitphotography. com where there’s a whole heap of stuff about the business and the pleasure of portrait photography as well, of course, as being the spiritual home of this podcast.

[01:30:16] And until next time, whatever else you do, be kind to yourself. Take care. Yay! 

[01:30:23] Sean: well done everybody

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