Sponsor The Dream
Stefan became a professional photographer 10 years ago when he was just fifteen years old. “I was all about having large camera gear to impress girls, which didn’t really work,” he laughs. “I was just a big nerd on camera gear.”
High school photography classes bored him, requiring him to shoot things like flowers and bones. Stefan found more exciting subjects in shooting downhill mountain bikers and skiers in his hometown of Queenstown, New Zealand. His home town, often considered the adventure capital of the world, gave him plenty of opportunities to produce amazing imagery in his backyard.
After graduation Stefan became a full-time photographer, but it took a while for him to find his niche. He turned-down an opportunity doing architecture because he found he is too hyperactive to be inside everyday. I witnessed this hyperactivity first-hand as we spoke. He seemed to be going in a million different directions all at once, but in a charming way and with great enthusiasm.
Between shooting commercial content for local businesses and shooting weddings, he was able to pay the bills. But weddings did not creatively interest him and the life of a freelancer was stressful. A few years into his professional career, Stefan went out on a limb. He pitched to Sony to partner with the Sony Action Cam. He was often working with top athletes and pitched his ability to create content in the beautiful landscapes around Queenstown.
This relationship grew over the years into bigger cameras and a full photography-ambassadorship. Now his leading sponsor, Sony, supports him to travel the world and create beautiful content. Another brand that teamed up with Stefan are his friends Alex and Loz from Will & Bear, who he’s been recently working closely with. “It’s not going to buy me a mansion, it’s more of a lifestyle thing,” he says. “If I wanted more money I would go out and get a job that would waste my life away. But I’m getting more value by being able to travel and see the world.”
Stories Find You
Constantly traveling can be taxing and Stefan believes that it takes a certain type of personality to be okay with it. At the time we spoke, he was traveling in Australia with 3 t-shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of pants, and his camera gear.
“I have bugger-all. Which means I smell more,” he laughs. “I’m currently sitting in a the car with two girls and they’re probably thinking yea you stink. I’ll open the window,” he says to them.
Though Stefan loves the freedom of being a minimalist, he does get homesick. At times, the lifestyle even puts him on edge. However, Stefan’s creativity as a photographer is driven by stories that materialize from his travels. Viewers find a deeper connection to his images because of the stories behind them. He achieves this by being authentic and by pushing the boundaries of his personal comfort zone. By doing that, stories tend to find him.
“You definitely have many ways of traveling. I like to challenge myself in that respect and I get really bored in hotels. I like going to a country to explore the culture and don’t want to portray a glorified fancy version of that country. It’s about getting on a train, going wherever you want, not having any worries, and getting into bad scenarios. Then all of a sudden you have these awesome stories to tell.”