Stephen Flint – ChatterArtist February 2013
Our ChatterArtist for this month is a client with whom I have been working for several years now, and that is Miami-based lifestyle & resort photographer Stephen Flint,naturally he’s an Aquarius, born on January 31st in Haiti to English parents. Interesting, right? Steve then lived in Jamaica and Trinidad for 10 years before moving to the U.S. in the early 1980’s, where he has lived ever since. And, as an “Island Boy” at heart, it really comes as no surprise to me that he primarily (though not exclusively) shoots hotel and resort lifestyle, and a lot of water sports, mostly in Florida and the Caribbean!
Now, in case you hadn’t noticed, paddleboards have become very popular in the last couple of years, and Steve has already taken some beautiful award-winning images of them. This time around though, he took it to a whole new level by combing paddle boarding with yoga! This crazy combo may look wonderfully serene, but as far as executing the shoot was concerned, Steve told me it was quite challenging and far more physically demanding than the end result implies, thus they are all bona fide yoga instructors and no models were hurt in the making of this image! I had a hard time selecting which one to show you, but this one was so bizarre, and when you think about what it took for them to be all doing that pose simultaneously, on those boards? Crazy!
I also couldn’t resist showing you this next image of the original, yes, I said the original “African Queen!” Apparently, this is the very same boat that was used in the famous 1951 movie of the same name, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Originally built in England and used by the East Africa British Railways Company to shuttle cargo, missionaries and hunting parties (though not necessarily in that order) across the Victoria Nile and Lake Albert, the boat was eventually brought over from Africa to America in 1968. Steve told me that at one point, the boat was in a state of disrepair, but a true enthusiast by the name of Captain Lance Holmquist, has painstakingly restored and preserved this cinematic artifact, which is now available for picnic pleasure cruises in Key Largo, Florida. Notice all of the fabulous attention to detail, including the Union Jack flag, as well as the crate of Gordon’s Gin (but of course, wouldn’t go anywhere without it darling!)
It was another of my favorite photographers Pete Barrett who originally referred Steve to me for some consulting, and ever since that time, I have watched him, his work and his business grow considerably. Part of Steve’s success is due not only to great images and listening to my advice (!), but also to a lot of hard work, a dedication to his craft and clients, as well as having a positive attitude and a great sense of humor! As I mentioned earlier, Steve’s parents are English, and he still has relatives in the U.K. This next image is from a wonderful spontaneous shoot with his nephew and three nieces – who subsequently became known as “The Converse Kids!
When I asked Steve to write me a testimonial a while back, he mentioned how I had helped him grow his business, even through these tough economic times. I simply gave him the tools and the advice, he took it, he made sure he promoted on a regular basis, worked his “local” and regional markets really well before going after the national, and made sure he was consistently shooting new work. If he wasn’t busy with assignments, he would work on one of his personal projects. This way, he always had something to show. Then, once he had accrued enough new work, we would book a session and edit in the new work, weed out some of the older images.
Over time, the number of portfolios has grown on his website, and Steve has been able to show a variety of categories without compromising his overall aesthetic. His type of clients need to see a range – so Steve shoots both the interior and exteriors of the resorts, the food and the chefs that create the sumptuous dishes, and all of the activities ranging from sensuous spa treatments to wild water sports and beach activities. I mention food, and this is another body of work that Steve has recently been expanding to show his clients that he can shoot multiple subjects, situations and stories. He can shoot where you might be dining, as well as what’s on the menu!
I also want to give a mention here to Steve’s lovely wife, Sandrine. In the early days, both Steve and Sandrine had a consumer family portraiture business together, but once Steve’s commercial career took off and needed his full attention, Sandrine took over that side of the business exclusively, and also shoots really beautiful work, by the way, so be sure to check out her website as well as Steve’s, which was recently updated. And speaking of Sandrine, this next image is one of my favorites of Steve’s portraits and is part of an ongoing personal project about retirees and what they are doing in their retirement. In this case, Jackie, who happens to also be his mother-in-law, works as a flight attendant! She looks like the kind of customer service employee that I would want to help me!
You see, as much as Steve loves to shoot all the scenic lifestyle and beautiful, tropical destinations, at the end of the day, it is also all about the people. Aquarius is a “social” sign by nature, so they, including Steve, are very good at making everyone feel comfortable. When the subject feels comfortable, and the crew feels confortable, chances are the photographer and ultimately the client, will get a better shot. Everyone loves the Aquarius, that’s just the way it is!