Interview: Steve Wells – 1

Episode 1 of 2: Steve Wells: The person

Steve Wells 1

Steve Wells is a freelance photographer based in Paris. He shoots portraits, landscapes, architecture, street art and portraits. His style is bold and sometimes a little twisted; he says he enjoys subverting people’s expectations.

This wide subject range reflects his own life experiences; Steve was born in Zambia and raised in New Zealand, he became an electrical engineer, then the guitaist for New Zeland band Fur Patrol before pursuing his passion for photography in Australia and France.

How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?

Driven / sensitive / perfectionist (sometimes too much)

Steve Wells 2

You worked as an electrical engineer before becoming a guitarist and then a photographer. What lead you down this creative path?

Creativity runs in my blood, my family has always been musicians and creators, so it was natural for me to have the desire to create.

Even while studying electrical engineering, I was making music, playing shows, touring etc. Looking back, I find it interesting that I have moved from making music to making images, but it all boils down to expression, creation, trying to capture something and put it back out there with my interpretation applied.

How do your globe-trotting and varied life experiences, including being a founding member of NZ rock band Fur Patrol, influence you and your art?

Moments and experiences are all we have. They make us who we are. Yes, you can study and be given information, but without experience, you will never really know life.

It is with experience that you can put together ideas, mix concepts and energies, which then influence what you produce creatively.

I have never been content to settle; work the 9 – 5, home, TV, bed…. and I guess as a result I have made choices that have taken me to different places and thrown me into various situations (some hard, some just amazing).

All of these moments influence what you create, even without you knowing. It’s always interesting to look back on old photos and to realize what I was feeling, to see in hindsight where I was in my life.


Now, let’s play a quick game of favourites:

You were born in Zambia, raised in New Zealand, worked in Australia and have been in France since 2007. Which is your favourite place to live and why?

I have to say I really adored both Melbourne and Sydney while I lived there, and now I’m adoring Paris. I can’t choose a favorite, as where I am is where I feel I am meant to be. At the moment, I am in Paris, and I so strongly that for the moment, this is where I should be.

Which is your favourite bar in Paris?

It would have to be the ‘Pick Clops’ cafe in the Marais. A great place to have a drink, good food, watch people passing by, and occasionally meet famous people….

Who is your favourite French photographer (or film director or cinematographer)?

I always have difficulty choosing a favorite, but here are a few I very much appreciate:
-Henri Cartier-Bresson
-Willy Ronis
-Robert Doisneau
-Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Which is your favourite gallery or museum in Paris ?

It would have to be the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. There is always something interesting showing, it’s close to the metro, in a superb quartier and not too expensive.

Where is your favourite place in Paris to shoot photos and why?

I tend to shoot mostly in my home studio, which is great. I have all my material available and it’s a cool, relaxed environment, so it’s easier to play with people, plus I have great blue stairs with lovely natural light.

I also love simply walking the streets of Paris, shooting the plethora of amazing street art – see the blog ‘Street Love‘ that I created with my girlfriend for some of our favorite street art.

Who has been your favourite person to photograph? Who would be your favourite French celebrity to photograph?

As much as I hate the whole ‘famous people’ game, I have to say the hour I spent with Pete Doherty was amazing. To actually spend face-to-face time with someone you have seen in the press (with all it’s bullshit) is an honor. He was really lovely, intelligent, observant, funny, open to ideas and discussion and incredibly honest in the photos we made for my series ‘à table’.

Steve Wells 3 (Pete Doherty)

If I had the chance, I would love a moment with Vincent Cassel, an incredible actor. Otherwise Isabelle Huppert, Marion Cotillard, or Clémence Poésy.

Stay tuned for the continuation of our interview with Steve – Episode 2 : Steve Wells, the photographer.

All images are © steve wells 2011 and cannot be used without express written authorisation (please contact Steve should you wish to license the use of any images)

About the Contributor

Laura Griffin

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  1. Judy MacMahon Sep 27, 2011 at 5:06 PM - Reply

    Steve, Im sure that many have said it before me, but your photos are astounding! I nearly fell off my chair when I first saw them! Thanks so much for your interview and we’re really looking forward to publishing Episode # 2 tomorrow. Best Judy

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