Street Photography Interview: Stefan Byrom @es.bee
I'm excited to say Stefan and I finally got round to having a discussion about his photography. We became friends through Instagram, have kept in touch for the last few years and have planned to meet up a few times (2020 is the year!). With time on our hands now it felt only right that we had a little chat to see what makes him tick when it comes to his photography work!
1. For the people unfamiliar with yourself, give us and introduction, and an overview of your work?
Where to start ? I’m known around these ends as the real gza aha… Nah my name is Stefan Byrom (@es.bee), currently residing in the Rochdale Greater Manchester area. I always find it hard to approach explaining my work because I feel there are so many levels to it. Most of my work is based around the working class, more specifically the working class towns and culture in the north. Really it's nostalgia driven too, a lot of my photos are inspired from experience, growing up on council estates. I love it.
2. You have a definitive style of photography. I can look at a photo and instantly know you took it. Is there anything you know, as soon as you see it, that it's going to make a good shot?
AHA that means I’m either doing something right or something wrong. It's a hard one to answer. I would say not really, I don’t really go out looking for amazing photos. I go out to tell my story and whatever comes after that is a bonus I guess. That being said the photos your afraid to take are usually the good ones aha . I think the most important thing is being happy about what you're doing whether the photo bangs or not, where Instagram's involved anyway.
3. What does a day on the street look like for you? Do you have a routine, any intention or just take it as it comes?
My day always starts with music and a trip to the local shop to stay hydrated. I usually wake up with an idea in mind, like a certain area i want to go to or if I’ve seen something online. These days I get messages tipping me off about things they think I'd like to photograph. In that case I'd take a trip to that but even then I just go with the flow. My approach to photographing can be quite spontaneous. I carry my camera always and I've not been afraid to tell people to pull over so i can jump out and snap something. If it makes sense to you take the photo.
4. How have you dealt with 'lock down' from a photography perspective. Has your way of working been affected or all in all things been pretty normal?
I really struggled in the beginning to be honest. Even though a lot of my stuff is still life there wasn’t anyone around to create it. But also I think without realising it you kinda feed off the energy around you. I've always hated Sundays for shooting because it is usually dead and empty but now I’ve had three months worth of that Sunday atmosphere. I say that but I feel my work has improved in that time too
5. Like many photographers, we met through Instagram and have been friends for a good while now. What's your opinion on the platform and is there anybody you'd like to shout out?
I think like many people I’ve had a love hate relationship with it but it is the only place really. It's just too easy to connect with people and their work. Chasing the wrong things is what causes that depression. I think we just have to concentrate on creating what we love and connecting with cool people.
As for the shout outs i’d have to say everyone who has supported me recently grabbed zines and prints etc.
where in the world is @mathrobs
-The hometown crew ( picklegee )@molly_gee10 and everyone else from the Dale supporting!
-The Bradford massive @johnbolloten
-And the Philly don @the.muted
6. Who has been an inspiration in photography to you?
My main inspirations are Dougie Wallace, Shirley Baker, Fred Herzog, Eggelston and John Bulmer but i get inspired on Instagram from everyone above all the time which is good.
7. 'Up The Dale', your sold out zine, was top notch! What gave you the idea behind combing the quotes and images? How were they recorded and paired?
I've always had this problem where for some reason I just hear things that I shouldn’t if that makes sense. I catch people saying things at the wrong time I'd make such a good grass aha.
So that happens all the time I just never wrote them down. The idea came from me wanting to provoke nostalgia and add a little bit more to a photo because there’s been many times I’ve looked at a photo and wondered what they were saying or thought about the story behind it. So, I guess it's a little nod to that side of photography too.
8. Are there any projects in the works, or in the planning process?
Well, I’m currently planning a part 2 to Up The Dale. Maybe it will be a Blackpool version or Greater Manchester. I haven’t decided yet aha. There's also a few other little projects with the Sheffield crew that may be in the works.
9. Tell us what keeps your motivated to shoot and one tip you'd give any photographer.
I get worried when I don’t get out to shoot cause I feel like I miss things so that keeps me going. Taurus are lazy as well so it can happen aha but seeing other people smashing it makes me want to get out there too. The advice I give everyone is have that camera on you all the time no matter where you go because there has been plenty of times in the past where I’ve missed things and kicked myself for days after because its gone.
10. Math told me to say that you owe him a pint and ask about the dog, what's that all about?
I'm sure he owes me one aha. The last time I was with him we were drinking in a pub in Manchester, not sure what his story is of the whole thing, but I’m convinced that dog was solving a dead body under the floorboards situation. I went back to that place just before lock down and it had been closed for some reason, who knows, you heard it here first though. Shout out to that dog BTW.
11. We've been planning to hit Blackpool since last year. Once the lock down eases lets get it.
Man we would have been there if not for all this palava but I’m so keen. Maybe we should get a big crew on it for after lock down imagine the scenes.
Thanks for doing the interview mate! Find Stefan here:
Read my other Street Photography Interviews and Blog Posts: