Behind the lens of Mr. Smith’s The Paris Collection was one of Australia’s most sought-after photographers, Steven Chee. Known for delivering inspiring and captivating imagery and working with the likes of Vogue Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Vanity Fair to name a few.
We sat down with Steven to ask him a few questions about his love for photography, what inspires him and The Paris Collection shoot.
What first got you into photography?
I loved gadgets as a kid and during a family trip to Uluru in Australia I saw that one of the other tour group members had a whizz bang camera and I was hooked. I harassed my Mum and Dad, and that Christmas and they got me my own point and shoot camera! That was where the initial spark started and then during high school I gravitated to the arts as I wasn’t a maths or science genius!
Who do you look up to in the industry?
I love the work of Philip-Lorca diCorcia. His photographs are very cinematic and I love the light and mood of his images.
Mario Sorrenti is also a favourite. In his pictures women always have a strength and beauty to them that I don’t think many people achieve.
What do you love about the industry?
I love that I get to do something different every day with different people, different briefs and different goals.
I’ve been able to travel to amazing locations- within Australia and around the world. I love to do a google of the restaurants in the area that we will be visiting!
I also get to be creative and bring people’s ideas and dreams to life by basically just doing my hobby!
What has been your most memorable shoot to date?
There’s been many memorable shoots, and for different reasons. The one that sticks out is my first cover for Harper’s Bazaar with Cate Blanchett. It was a Black and White beauty and it gave me a great acceleration in my career. Cate was an amazing subject and gave me plenty of time to explore and master the shot- I just love the final shot.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I draw from lots of different streams including books, magazines, movies and good ol’ Netflix has become more relevant now that I am exploring motion more and more.
The ability to play a video on your phone these days has spurred this new branch and I love it because it has meant getting more new gadgets to play with!
Watching the daylight cross the environment also sparks ideas as it reveals different pockets of magic throughout the day.
You’ve done some amazing shoots in your career so far, are there any particular projects that are still on your bucket list?
I would really like to spend some time working on an image or series of images that I would be stoked to enlarge at scale and hang on the wall at home. I’m thinking more about art than about photography. I don’t know what it would be yet, but to have that image on the wall would be a real achievement for me.
What was your favourite thing about shooting The Paris Collection for Mr. Smith?
The whole shoot was a gift! The team we got to work with over there and the belief in us from Mr. Smith to take us all the way to the other side of the globe was incredible. Working with the backdrop of Paris was perfection for the brief and the models brought it all together.
What was the vibe on set for The Paris Collection shoot?
Total excitement! We had been talking about the trip for at least 6 months and then to finally be on the ground in Paris was a pinch yourself moment. On any shoot there’s usually one hiccup on the day that we need to solve but everything went to plan from get go! Looking back now with all the restrictions going on it really seems like a dream and seems so long ago.
How did you bring The Paris Collection to life?
Once the girls were dressed and their hair was done, all the planning up to that point came to fruition. The mood boards and discussions along the way came to life and it was more about capturing the moments in the endless angles of the city of love! The brand aesthetic was clear from the start so snapping away and recording the result was probably the easiest part!
Style. Substance. Simplicity.