Graffiti, Grime and Rooftops with Tristan Stefan Edouard
By Vicki Fletcher @VickiFletcher88
It doesn’t ever really matter what you do, if you love it, you will eventually start to do it well. For Tristan Stefan Edouard, photography came not from years of professional training, but from buying his first DSLR in 2008 and since then, never putting it down. The Sydney-based photographer, who has an incredible knack for capturing energy is equally as likely to photograph a fashion portrait as a landscape shot, or deserted train tunnel with a graffiti writer in frame.
Do you remember the first photograph you ever took?
I don’t remember the very first, but I do remember always wanting to use my parents camera at parties when I was around 8 years old. I also remember buying my first DLSR and the first photo I took was a portrait of a girl I was with at the time.
You have an impressive scope of subjects in your portfolio, all seemingly executed with a knowing eye. What is your photography background?
I’m completely self taught and bought my first DLSR in December 2008. It was pretty much trial and error,I became obsessed with it and never put the camera down. Before that I carried around a little point and shoot from about 1999, just for happy snaps and to document the lifestyle I was living. I don’t really like to limit myself in terms of subjects, I like to shoot what I feel like and add my style to it. The longer I have been doing it, the more I think I narrow down what I ‘specialize’ in, but overall I love taking photos of everything and don’t want to limit myself to only a couple of areas of photography.
You take equally intimidating shots of people as of cityscapes; what makes you pull out your camera? What pulls you to your subjects?
These days it’s usually light, I’m a sucker for good, dramatic light. I’m a firm believer in light being able to make the most boring subject look good.
Some of your most intriguing shots are your underground train shots, graffiti art, street life; can you give us an insight into the underground Sydney that you know?
Well I’ve always been quite interested in the ‘underground’ and unknown side of life, that hidden side that always isn’t in public view. I’m always chasing a rush and that’s how I naturally progressed to that type of photography. I think it’s a natural instinct to shoot stuff you are familiar with when you first start taking photos and I had a lot of friends who were graffiti writers or dudes living the ‘street’ life. It’s funny the places that a chilled attitude and camera can get you. Underground Sydney for me is finding beauty in things and places that people normally wouldn’t see beauty in, I would rather see a street dude holding $10,000 in $100 bills as opposed to a photo of a flower, I would rather see a filthy, grimy underground tunnel as opposed to a shot of sunrise at the beach.
And did how you manage to shoot KGB's Vice on a rooftop in the city? Those dudes are no doubt locked down pretty tight…
I got introduced by a mutual friend and kept pushing to head out at night for some flicks, it did take a few months to make it happen. Guys like that are quite secretive but i guess it comes down to how you act and how chilled you are. You kinda nearly need to pass an unspoken test and prove yourself, but without actually doing anything haha. We hit a few spots that night, I've still got a bunch in the stash that i've never released.
Can you tell us a little bit about your tattoo photography?
I’ve done quite a bit of tattoo photography, mostly because I’ve been getting tattooed for about 13 years now and I have a lot of friends that are tattoo artists. In fact, my first ever magazine spread was in Inked Magazine. It all just came about naturally because I would get tattooed and become friends with the artists and I would just go down and hang out and take photos. Also like I said before, I think it’s a natural instinct to shoot stuff you are familiar with when you first start taking photos, so that’s how I started taking tattoo photos.
You have an incredible way of freezing energy in your photographs. What can you tell us about your style of shooting?
I honestly have no idea, I think after years of practice I just fall in a robot type mode and my mind functions on auto pilot when I’m shooting. I think the main thing is to have an idea of your end result and what you’re trying to convey before you take a shot. I find a lot of my style comes down to my choice of lighting and making people comfortable when shooting.
What are you working on right now?
I just came back from a trip to Africa, so just finishing up those photos right now and heading off to Hawaii soon to work on some stuff. I’m trying to change it up and work on a few projects with more meaning behind them. Looking towards documenting a few pressing social issues that I would like to bring to peoples’ attention - something with some substance that can hopefully educate people.
Do you have a favourite spot to go shooting in Sydney? Where might we find you on say a Friday night, or a Sunday afternoon?
I started off shooting lots of rooftops over the city skyline so definitely a favourite spot for me is a rooftop overlooking the Sydney city skyline. Friday night probably still working and Sunday afternoon is strictly couch time with a whiskey, choc chip cookies and a good movie.
Have a geez at Tristan’s stuff here: