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Photographer

Stephen Tilley

On what I do…

I take photos – advertising and fashion, specifically people based. I have a passion for taking pictures and am constantly taking photos, practicing new techniques outside of commissioned images. 

On the beginning…

Photography for me started in London. I created a travel portfolio of images and was asked to work for a small indi magazine in the city, shooting street culture and music scene images. It basically grew from there.

On New Zealand being home…

I lived in London, Paris and Ireland for a little while. I love New Zealand, the culture, the beaches the landscapes and the people. So although I enjoyed living overseas and experiencing all that history and changes of culture, the call to return to my roots became too strong to deny. 

On inspiration…

The three colour trilogy directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski starring Juliette Binoche was really the first time I experienced an art house film and the photography and lighting really inspired me. I became obsessed in French art house movies after that.

Music has always inspired me. In fact, besides my family and photography music is the next most important thing in my life. A book that changed my life was ‘A God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy, especially the poetic use of language to describe environments.

On switching off from work…

Movies, reading and listening to music are how I relax. When I really need to shut down I listen to a lot of ambient music Brian Eno in particular. 

On what community means to me…

Community is looking after our most vulnerable, where everyone has access to healthcare and a  safe place to live, clothes, food and access to education… haha, sounds like a political promise at election time. 

On someone significant in my life...

Caroline and I’ve been together for 20 years. She is a master of detail, a hard worker and motivator – she is very good at promoting me as a photographer and has always been my biggest fan. And she is deeply passionate about the creative process. Caroline has allowed me to follow my dream, and given me every opportunity to take photos encouraging me and believing in me. She is also quick to criticize work that she doesn’t like which has helped me to improve. She gave me two beautiful children, and is an amazing loving dedicated mother.

On raising my two children in New Zealand…

I like to think New Zealand is a pretty safe place. The closeness to all the amazing landscapes and outdoor experiences. I adore the Maori culture and am grateful that most New Zealanders I believe respect our indigenous culture.

On a lesson in life…

To treat every human with respect and dignity. 

On being grateful...

I am always very grateful for the fact that I have a beautiful family and friends around me. I have a job that I absolutely love doing, and I live in a beautiful country. What more could you ask for? I try to remind myself of that when I am exhausted. 

On contributing to Great Full…

It’s so important that everyone gets access to healthcare regardless of their economic situation.I think Starship is an amazing foundation; it helps families at their most vulnerable time and endeavors to improve their lives. I have two children of my own and can’t begin to imagine being a parent of a child seriously ill, it’s heart breaking what some families have to endure and if I can help in any way I will.