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Visual Life

Q&A with Stephen Mcharo

Interviewed by Stella Ikuzwe

Stephen Mcharo is an artist, photographer, and filmmaker, driven to portray emotional pieces through visual storytelling.

What made you get into photography?

Fashion. My favorite photographer, Peter Lindberg, demonstrates the world of fashion from the women’s perspective. When he captures a photo, you can feel the emotion, and I was so inspired that I wanted to do the same thing. I wanted to express fashion through my own style - black and white photography. I also have a photographic memory which lets me spot how images are edited. So, I usually have those images running through my head when I'm taking my own photos, pulling inspiration when I see fit.

What is your process like?

I see something that might have a story and I capture it –even though I don’t know what the story is exactly. I have this film playing in my head that I don’t know where I’ve seen it, but I am working to capture that film through photographs. When I take that perfect photo, I get that excitement. I usually see the magic when I’m editing and I'm awe’d.

But, you know, I am my worst critic. If I want to produce the best work, I have to be unimpressed with it. In other people’s eyes, it’s amazing. But for me, there is always room for improvement.

What inspires you?

When I was young I didn’t really express myself, but as I get older,I am able to. I realize that people hesitate to express themselves because of their fear of running out of time or growing up. But I’m in the position where I want to express myself and remain present. There is always going to be change, but with change comes something beautiful. I feel like I inspire myself. I’m able to do so many things when I put my mind to it, and I get inspired by that.

Do your photographs have meaning behind them?

My photography doesn’t really have any meaning. When I shoot I’m not looking for meaning, I look for beauty. For others, it becomes something professional, but for me, it was just something cool that I created organically. I don’t usually have a story behind my work.

Why do you think it’s hard for you to find a story?

When people create stories, they are trying to fit something for an audience but that isn’t something that comes from my heart. Stories that come from my heart are ones I have experienced and shared with other people. Therefore, I just try to be present for what I photograph.

Quite a bit of your work is cityscapes, so what intrigues you about them?

Cityscapes allow you to capture and be immersed in a specific historical time. With landscaping, I am able to capture the beauty of an area in a way that can both transcend time through stills. Being in a landscape that isn’t normalized and takes you out of your everyday experience is very magical.

What made you stick to photography?

I started my journey with photography 12 years ago. Sometimes I think about stopping, but I also know if I quit, it’s like cutting off a limb that is a part of me. Photography chose me. I just picked up a phone randomly and started taking pictures of what I saw. And then, I eventually learned how to edit. It’s something that makes me happy. I used to draw and sketch. But when I started diving into photography, I fell in love. Photography captures life.

Where do you see your photography going?

I want to speak out on my own terms. I don’t like to follow trends; I like to go with what feels authentically me, and maybe that might be through filmmaking.

What are three words you would use to describe your work?

Symmetrical, Edgy, Energy


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